Affected portion of ruptured California pipeline to be removed soon

The affected portion of ruptured Plains All American Pipeline Line 901 is expected to be removed and replaced soon, a company official said on May 25 as crews continued cleaning up crude oil released at San Refugio State Park in Santa Barbara County (OGJ Online, May 20, 2015).

Refugio Oil Response Unified Command members and the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration “are reviewing the work plan to remove the affected portion of the pipe, and we anticipate starting the process within the next 24 hr,” PAA Senior Operations Rick McMichael said.

Crews have collected 9,492 gal of oily water mixture since the response began, the Unified Command said on May 25. “Since yesterday, [recovered] oily solids…increased from 91 to 220 cu yards. Oily soil collected has increased from 800 to 1,250 cu yards,” it said. “Additionally 1,630 ft of absorbent boom has been deployed as well as 2,090 ft of hard boom, resulting [in] a total of 3,720 ft of boom deployed.”

McMichael said, “We have made progress on removing the soil adjacent to the immediate area of the release: More than 2,600 cu yards have been removed. This oiled soil has been placed in approximately 170 bins, which will be moved and temporarily stored in a secure offsite facility for further evaluation.”

The impending removal of the pipe’s affected portion comes 5 days after PHMSA issued a corrective action order to PAA following the company’s discovery of the leak on May 19. The May 21 order directed the operator to suspend operations and make improvements along the line, remove any remaining crude, and submit a plan to PHMSA for approval before resuming operations.

Patrick Hodgins, PAA’s senior safety and operations director, said the Houston company had an outside contractor run an inline inspection of Line 901 in early May before the leak was discovered.

“Although the final report is still being developed, we requested and received an expedited preliminary inspection report to determine if there are any areas that need investigating prior to emptying the remaining oil in the line,” Hodgins said on May 25.

“Based on this rough cut of the data and in accordance with our company’s integrity management plan, we identified four locations on Line 901 that we plan to investigate as part of our customary procedures,” Hodgins said.

Contact Nick Snow at

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