PHMSA Fines Sunoco Logistics in LOTO Case

According to the notice, Sunoco Logistics failed to follow its own written lockout/tagout procedure to ensure all energy sources were isolated before work began on Nov. 10, 2015. Employees following the procedure disassembled a flow control valve while it was under approximately 400 psig of nitrogen pressure.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, part of DOT, has issued a Notice of Probable Violation, Proposed Compliance Order and Proposed Civil Penalty of $251,800 to Sunoco Logistics Partners, L.P. after concluding its investigation of a November 2015 accident at the Sunoco-owned West Texas Gulf Pipeline Company's facility in Wortham, Texas. The incident injured five workers.

The notice identifies two probable violations of federal pipeline safety regulations, including failing to have a formal written procedure for the operation and maintenance of the 10-inch flow control valve involved in the accident, and failing to follow a written plan to ensure isolation of all energy sources prior to the start of work on the day when the incident occurred.

According to the notice, Sunoco Logistics failed to follow its own written lockout/tagout procedure to ensure all energy sources were isolated before work began on Nov. 10, 2015. Employees following the procedure disassembled a flow control valve while it was under approximately 400 psig of nitrogen pressure, "resulting in failure of the valve, damage to the piping and associated equipment, a release of crude oil to the environment, and injury to five personnel," the notice states.

The penalty could have been a maximum of $200,000 per violation and up to $2 million for a related series of violations.

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