Pacific Pipeline Systems LLP of Long Beach, California agreed to pay a $1.3 million civil penalty and discontinue the use of a section of pipeline through an unstable section of mountains to resolve a Clean Water Act violation.
The agreement resolves a complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles for the discharge of crude oil into Pyramid Lake, located about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. In March 2005, a landslide caused a portion of Pacific Pipeline Systems’ Line 63, an underground pipeline that runs from Bakersfield, Calif., to Los Angeles to fail.
The resulting break in the pipelinedischarged approximately 3,393 barrels of oil, much of which flowed into Pyramid Lake, which is part of the California Aqueduct and is a potential drinking water supply. Water served through the public water system was not impaired by the discharge.
As part of the agreement, Pacific Pipeline Systems will discontinue use of approximately 70 miles of the Line 63 pipeline that travels through the Tehachapi Mountains, portions of which are geologically unstable. The agreement does allow for the reuse of the pipeline. Prior to that, Pacific Pipeline must perform specific actions to relocate the pipeline into more geologically stable areas or improve its resistance to earth movement.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.