PUC proposes $1M fine for Beaver County pipeline blast

Agency: internal study showed blast occurred in area rated "9 out of 9" for landslide risk

  • Reid Frazier

State regulators are proposing a $1 million fine to a Texas energy company for a 2018 pipeline explosion that destroyed a home in Beaver County. 

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission investigators are proposing the fine for Dallas-based Energy Transfer, the owner of the Revolution pipeline, after a probe looking into violations of the state’s Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act, which empowers the PUC to enforce federal pipeline safety laws.

The pipeline had been in service only a week when a landslide following heavy rains led the pipe to rupture, releasing 3 million cubic feet of gas and sending flames 150 feet into the air. 

There were no injuries, but the blast burned one house to the ground, damaged power lines and destroyed several vehicles.   The 40-mile pipeline was built to carry gas in Butler, Beaver, Allegheny and Washington counties.

The PUC says an analysis the company made before construction of the pipeline found the hillside where the blast happened had a very high risk of landslide. 

According to PUC investigators, the analysis included “a landslide model representing landslide hazards on a scale from 1 to 9, with 9 being the greatest risk of occurrence of a landslide. The model categorizes the slope at the failure site as a 9.”

As part of the settlement, the company does not admit to any of the findings or admit fault. 

In addition to the fine, the company agreed to several increased safety precautions along the Revolution, including increased monitoring, inspection,and regular patrols of the pipeline route.

The PUC will vote on whether to approve the fine next year.

Alexis Daniel, a company spokeswoman, said in an email the company was “pleased” with the settlement. “We are now one step closer to safely resuming service on this critical infrastructure that transports natural gas for domestic consumption in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states,” Daniel said. 

The company has already been fined $30 million by the Department of Environmental Protection for the Sept. 10, 2018 blast. The DEP has blocked the company from re-starting the line, citing erosion issues, but the company is appealing that order. The company is arguing that it’s already complied with the DEP’s hillside stabilization requirements and should be allowed to re-start the line. 

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