Despite National Attention, Pipeline Disasters Are on the Rise

The BP oil spill was one of the greatest catastrophes that the oil industry has faced. The media attention spurred increased scrutiny regarding safety standards related to pipeline accidents. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) reported that between 1990 and 2009, there have been 5, 626 pipeline significant incidents that caused 365 fatalities, 1,552 injuries, $4.4 billion in property damage and 2.5 million barrels spilled into the environment.

Despite the pledges to increase safety and prevent oil spills, the oil industry has maintained a year average of 280 significant incidents for the past 20 years. Since 2006, the number of injuries and significant incidents has continued to increase. Some of the worst pipeline incidents have occurred in the past few years:

March 2013- Exxon Pegasus Pipeline caused a spill of over 200,000 gallons of oil that poisoned the wetlands and killed wildlife.

June 2010- A pipeline from Enbridge, Inc released more than 1 million gallons of oil into Kalamazoo river in Michigan. This caused fifty homes to be evacuated and it contaminated the local drinking water supply.

June 2010- A Chevron Oil Co. pipeline leaked 33,600 gallons of oil in Red Butte Creek.

July 2009- The Eugene Island pipeline system in the Gulf of Mexico spilled approximately 63,000 gallons of oil off the shore of Louisiana. It was reported that this spill occurred due to a crack in the pipeline.

November 2007- Two workers were killed after an Enbridge, Inc. pipeline caught fire in Minnesota. The pipeline had leaked previously and a temporary repair had been placed with no permanent repair performed.

November 2007- Two people were killed, seven were injured and several homes were obliterated when 430,000 gallons of liquid propane were released from a broken pipeline in Mississippi.

June 2006- Three workers were killed when an explosion and fire broke out in the Partridge Raleigh Oilfield in Raleigh, Mississippi. The workers were completing the piping connections when sparks caused the fire to erupt.

March 2006- A BP pipeline on the tundra of Alaska’s North Slope spilled 267, 000 gallons of crude oil. The leak was part of a corrosion problem with the pipeline.

The one thing that these incidents have in common is that they show a need for increased regulations on Oil and Gas companies. The PHMSA should provide stricter enforcement standards for these pipelines to prevent future accidents. It is unacceptable that the top 10 oil and gas companies in the world reported $2.8 trillion in revenue and $150 billion in profit during 2009 but cannot follow proper safety standards. In some instances, these companies, such as BP, Exxon and Sunoco, Inc. have been repeatedly fined for failing to follow regulations. See our blog post on BP’s bad acts.

These pipeline accidents have not only caused extensive property damage, environmental concerns but also significant personal injuries to workers for those companies. If you or a loved one has suffered property damage or injury from an oil spill or pipeline accident, please contact our law firm.

We have extensive experience handling pipeline accident lawsuits. Our performance inside and outside of the Courtroom has garnered significant awards including induction into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Super Lawyer by Texas Monthly Magazine.f

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