After three years, Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission has offered Energy Transfer a settlement over the Revolution Pipeline explosion in Beaver County. The PUC began investigating the incident, along with other state agencies, immediately after the blast in 2018. Several investigations have uncovered numerous failures by Energy Transfer to comply with state and federal pipeline regulations.
The primary concern for regulators is Energy Transfer’s decision to build a portion on the pipeline on a hillside with a high risk of landslides, which ultimately was the cause of the explosion. No one was hurt in the explosion, but it did burn down a home and damage several vehicles.
The PUC’s investigation included an in-depth analysis of the hillside that the pipeline was built on, including an analysis of the modeling that Energy Transfer conducted into the site’s landslide potential. The investigators found that Energy Transfer’s model scored landslide potential on a scale of one through nine from lowest risk to highest risk, with the hillside in question being scored a nine. Even with the knowledge of a high potential for landslide events, the Revolution Pipeline was still built on the site.
From the findings, the PUC has extended an offer to Energy Transfer of a flat $1 million fine. The settlement also relinquishes Energy Transfer from being found at fault for the explosion. Energy Transfer is reportedly “pleased” with the PUC’s offer, but the PUC still needs to vote to approve the offer, which will happen early in 2021.
The Revolution Pipeline has been out of service since the explosion, as the state Department of Environmental Protection has issued an order to remediate the site, and prove that the pathway is stable before service could resume as part of their settlement with Energy Transfer. The DEP also levied a record $30 million fine as part of the settlement.
The settlement could mark the turning point for Energy Transfer’s tumultuous time in Pennsylvania after countless violations and fines have been levied against both their Revolution and Mariner East pipeline projects.