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Over $100 Million in Fines and Safety Improvements for Fatal Washington State Gasoline Pipeline Explosion

Release Date: 12/19/2002
Contact Information:


Teresa Libera 202-564-7873/libera.teresa@epa.gov

(12/19/02) On Dec. 11, the Olympic Pipeline Co. (OPL) and the Equilon Pipeline Corp. (EPC), which is owned by Shell Oil Co. – along with individuals Frank Hopf of Woodlands, Texas; Ron Brestson of Kent, Wash.; and Kevin Dyvig of Buckley, Wash., all plead guilty to federal charges in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle. They each had alleged roles in a June 10, 1999, gasoline pipeline explosion that caused three fatalities, released approximately 236,000 gallons of gasoline and caused serious environmental damage in Hannah Creek and Whatcom Creek in Bellingham, Wash. OPL agreed to plead guilty to felony violations of the Federal Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act (FHLPA), the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Rivers and Harbor Act. EPC agreed to plead guilty to felony violations of the FHLPA and the CWA. Hopf and Brentson agreed to plead guilty to felony violations the FHLPA and Dyvig agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the CWA. The plea agreement calls for OPL to pay a $6 million criminal fine, a $5 million civil fine, spend approximately $15 million ensuring the safety of its pipelines in Washington State and serve five years’ probation. Under the agreement, EPC will pay $15 million in criminal fines, $10 million in civil fines and EPC’s parent company, Shell, will develop a $61 million pipeline integrity program for its pipelines in the United States. With total criminal and civil fines combined, this is the largest pipeline case ever brought in the United States. When sentenced, Hopf and Brentson each face a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. Dyvig faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a $100,000 fine, when sentenced. This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Bellingham, Wash., Police Department. Investigative assistance was provided by EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle.