January 24, 2003
The Justice Department, EPA, and state of Washington announced that a civil settlement has been reached with Olympic Pipe Line Company and Shell Pipeline Company LP for environmental violations leading to the 1999 fatal pipeline rupture in Bellingham, Washington.

The civil settlement addresses claims against the two companies in civil cases arising from the rupture, which caught fire and caused the deaths of two 10-year-old boys and an 18-year-old man and resulted in the discharge of over 230,000 gallons of gasoline into Whatcom.

The settlements require Shell to pay civil penalties of $10 million, split equally between EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE). Additionally, the settlement with EPA requires Shell to spend an estimated $62 million to conduct a program lasting a minimum of five years to perform state-of-the-art spill prevention work on more than 2,100 miles of Shell's main product pipelines in seven states. The pipeline systems covered by the program are Shell's East, North, Chase and Orion systems in the states of Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

The settlements with Olympic, based on a limited ability to pay, require the pipeline company to pay civil penalties of $5 million, split equally between EPA and WDOE. Additionally, Olympic's settlement with EPA requires the company to spend an estimated $15 million to conduct a spill prevention program lasting a minimum of five years on the entire 400-mile Olympic Pipeline where the tragedy occurred. The required work covers the states of Washington and Oregon and is designed to address all of the causes of the rupture. Olympic's pipeline spill prevention program supplements the pipeline safety remedial program already required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) shortly after the accident occurred.

The five-year plans, as required by the settlements, include a wide range of measures including:

  • Internal inspections of pipeline using "Smart PIG" technology (devices that travel through pipeline to scan for defects);
  • Preventive maintenance and repair of pipeline and valve defects;
  • Installation, maintenance, and testing of corrosion control equipment;
  • Testing and repair of leak detection systems;
  • Installation of block valves and check valves to divert the flow of gasoline in an emergency;
  • Protective measures for exposed pipe;
  • Protective measures for insufficiently buried pipe near commercially navigable waterways;
  • Monitoring of construction activities near the pipelines;
  • Frequent pipeline surveys;
  • Operator training; and
  • Programs to ensure that changes in the pipeline system are analyzed for their effect on the operations and safety of the entire pipeline.

The settlements also require the companies to pay independent contractors, which EPA and the companies will jointly select, to monitor implementation of the terms of the settlements, and to report to EPA.

Monitoring of third-party construction activity near the pipelines is required by Department of Transportation regulations, but the settlements have specific requirements for both companies regarding actual presence of pipeline employees at any construction activity that is close enough to the pipelines to pose a risk of damage.

The civil penalties in this case are in addition to the criminal fine of $15 million levied against Shell and the criminal fine of $6 million levied against Olympic in a separate criminal case announced last month by the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington. The plea agreements in the criminal case were conditioned on Shell and Olympic's agreement to the pipeline spill prevention programs in the settlements.

All pipeline companies are required to comply with the regulations of the Department of Transportation, the federal pipeline safety authority. These include new pipeline integrity management regulations that are far more stringent than those in effect at the time of the Bellingham accident. In addition, the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, enacted in December, 2002, has added requirements. Under the consent decrees, the companies have agreed to additional inspections and maintenance procedures, and the use of specified state-of-the-art tools to help their pipelines meet DOT's pipeline safety objectives.

The consent decrees with Shell and Olympic describing the terms of the federal civil settlements were filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in United States v. Shell Pipeline Co. LP dba Equilon Pipeline Co. LLC and Olympic Pipe Line Co., CV02-1178R and are subject to a 30-day public comment period.


The Hazardous Materials Transportation Security Awareness Training Module 2002 on CD-ROM provides transportation security general awareness training and guidelines for law enforcement, industry and the hazmat community. Limited to 1 per order.

To order online, go to http://diy.dot.gov/, and click on RSPA Office of HAZMAT Safety. Choose Training Materials and Publications from the menu, click on Free Publications, and scroll down to 'Security Training Module.' You may also order by calling 1-800-467-4922, ext. 3.


Due to several requests from the public, EPA has extended the comment period for its pilot information database, Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) to March 31. The comment period was originally scheduled to end Jan. 31.

The comment period provides users and other interested parties, particularly those responsible for facilities included within the database, an opportunity to review and comment on ECHO's content, design and data accuracy. In addition, ECHO provides an online error reporting process to ensure continued public participation on data quality. When final, ECHO will provide users detailed facility reports, which include federal and state compliance inspections; environmental violations; recent formal enforcement actions taken; and demographic profiles of surrounding areas.

ECHO can be found at http://www.epa.gov/echo.

Comments regarding ECHO may be submitted to echo@epa.gov as a Word or WordPerfect file or mailed to Rebecca Kane, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, MC 2222A, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20460. Specific data errors should be submitted using the error correction process on the ECHO site. Details regarding the public comment extension also will be published in an upcoming Federal Register notice.


The Justice Department, EPA and the state of Illinois announced a settlement with the bankrupt Laclede Steel Company that will lead to the sale and partial reopening of the company's former steel mill in Alton, Illinois. As part of the settlement, Laclede will sell the mill to Alton Steel for $1 million. These funds will be placed in a trust to be used by Alton Steel to perform clean up activities at the site according to an agreed order of priorities and under the supervision of the EPA and Illinois EPA.

Alton Steel has committed to reopening the facility and bringing it back into compliance with environmental laws, regulations and permits. Additionally, Laclede will place $100,000 in a special Superfund account for later use in cleaning up the site, if necessary.

Laclede operated the Alton mill for close to 90 years, before halting operations there as part of its 1998 bankruptcy reorganization. On July 27, 2001, Laclede filed a second bankruptcy petition, this time seeking dissolution rather than reorganization. The United States filed a multi-million dollar claim in the bankruptcy court seeking the funds necessary to clean up the Alton facility were it abandoned by Laclede. In light of the limited size of Laclede's bankruptcy estate and the size of competing claims, it appeared unlikely that the United States would be able to recover sufficient funds from Laclede to clean up the site without a significant expenditure of public monies.

Since 1998, Laclede has been violating its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit. Under the settlement agreement, this permit will be transferred to Alton Steel, which will be responsible for bringing the facility back into compliance with it.

At its peak, Laclede employed in excess of 3,000 workers at its Alton facility and still employed over 600 there at the time of the first bankruptcy. Alton Steel will initially staff the plant operations with approximately 80 hourly employees and expects to expand operations there by the end of the first year to require a total of approximately 222 hourly employees.

Alton Steel was established to acquire certain assets of Laclede and to use those assets for the manufacture and distribution of steel products. Alton Steel's President, Melvin Cook, was employed by Laclede Steel at the Alton facility from 1955 through 1987. Since 1987, Mr. Cook has engaged in consulting activities with other steel-makers and related industries and co founded Bluff City Steel, LLC, in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996.

The settlement agreement has been lodged in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and is subject to a 30-day public comment period.


The Administration has launched regulations.gov, a new online rulemaking Web site, that will make the federal rulemaking process more accessible and enable citizens and small businesses to quickly access and comment on hundreds of open proposed rules from all federal agencies. This consolidation is estimated to save $94 million by creating a single system for the entire federal government.

"Today technology throws open the doors of a government relationship to every American with an opinion to express. E-Rulemaking will democratize an often closed process and enable every interested citizen to participate in shaping the rules which affect us all," said OMB Director Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.

"E-Rulemaking will allow citizens to participate actively by enabling them to be involved in federal rulemaking on their own terms at a location and time of their choice. This initiative will help assure the public that they have a role in making regulatory decisions and that it can be done in a more timely and efficient manner," said EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher.

One of the first e-democracy sites, regulations.gov, provides the American people unprecedented access to the rulemaking process and enables them to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Trends show that the American public is interested in becoming involved in the rulemaking process on-line. In 1997, DOT conducted 155 rulemaking actions that generated about 3,000 public comments. In 2000, the agency received 63,000 public comments on fewer rules after accepting comments on-line.

Regulations.gov provides a one-stop point of entry for citizens to comment on open rules from all agencies via e-mail. Until now the public comment process was difficult to use and lacked transparency. Citizens needed to know the agency responsible for developing the rule in order to view the relevant materials on-line and generally needed to comment in writing.

Regulations.gov is the first step of the E-Rulemaking initiative that will build an integrated and cost-effective regulatory management system to ensure efficiency, economies of scale and consistency for federal rulemaking process.

E-Government is an integral part of the President's Management Agenda to make it easier for citizens and businesses to interact with the government, save taxpayer dollars and streamline citizen-to-government transactions. A copy of the President's E-government strategy, which includes information on each of the E-Government Initiatives, is available on the OMB Web site at http://www.omb.gov.

For more information, please contact OMB Communications at (202) 395-7254.