Image courtesy of the Department of Transportation.

A Department of Transportation probe into a May pipeline spill in Santa Barbara has uncovered six record keeping violations dating back to 2013 but did not result in fines.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said Monday it has identified six probable record keeping violations that preceded a rupture at the Plains All American operated Line 901 in California.

In a letter to Plains All American, the agency said the company did not maintain adequate documentation of pressure tests as part of its baseline assessment plan for seven breakout tanks at Pentland Station in Kern County, California or its annual review of its emergency response training program.

The PHMSA also said adequate documentation was not maintained for preventative and mitigative evaluations prior to the 2013 calendar year for Plains’ Sisquoc to Pentland and Pentland to Emidio pipeline segments.

“A Plains representative eventually stated in an email, dated March 25, 2014, that the company was unable to locate the 2013 preventive and mitigative evaluations for those pipeline segments,” the agency said.

The agency also found that while Plains supervisors were present at emergency response training drills, there were no records to show or evaluate individual supervisor’s knowledge about the procedures they are responsible for.

Plains did not incur any penalties tied to the findings.

“We have reviewed the circumstances and supporting documents involved in this case, and have decided not to propose a civil penalty assessment at this time,” the PHMSA said.

A federal report released in June found that Plains operated Line 901 suffered from corrosion before spilling as many as 3,400 barrels of crude near the Refugio State Beach area.

The line has been shut down since the accident.

“Third-party metallurgists in the field estimated that corrosion at the failure site had degraded the wall thickness to an estimated 1/16 of an inch (.0625″),” the report said.

Houston-based Plains has retained a third-party firm to review the spill estimates and will not finalize its own estimate until the review has been completed.


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