The Washington Department of Ecology is penalizing British Petroleum (BP) $100,000 for two February 2020 Olympic Pipeline spills near Woodinville.
On Feb. 21, BP was performing construction on the Olympic pipeline. After completing a phase of the work, BP visually inspected for leaks for 30 minutes at approximately half of the normal operating pressure, but none were detected. The pipeline returned to normal operating pressure, but BP did not perform additional leak checks afterward.
On Feb. 22, a nearby landowner smelled fuel and contacted BP, who later shut down the line. The Woodinville Fire Department and Ecology were notified the next day. Spilled gasoline was found in the excavation area, but all of it was contained on site and none reached waters of the state.
BP also checked a similar construction site further north, and BP confirmed more spilled gasoline. Response contractors collected and disposed of contaminated groundwater, and the leak was repaired. Approximately 67.4 gallons of gasoline reached waters of the state at that site.
The two incidents were the result of BP inadequately tightening fittings and failing to perform a leak check at normal operating pressure. After the leaks were discovered, BP did not complete a safety assessment of the site before entry, as required in its facility response plan. BP also failed to provide timely notification of the spill to water.
When spilled, gasoline can contaminate water and is toxic to aquatic life. Gasoline is highly flammable as both a liquid and a gas, and presents significant safety concerns if released.
BP has 30 days to appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.