The operator of the buried gas pipeline that exploded on June 7 in Johnson County, killing one man and injuring eight others, violated state regulations, including the failure to mark the pipeline's path, the Texas Railroad Commission said last week.
In its investigative report, the commission concluded that Enterprise Products Operating LLC of Houston violated numerous pipeline safety measures of the Texas Utilities Code.
"Action should be begin immediately" to correct the violations, Mary McDaniel, director of the Railroad Commission's Pipeline Safety Division, said in a letter to Terry Hurlburt, Enterprise senior vice president of operations. She also ordered Enterprise to submit a correction plan and schedule by Sept. 29.
The fines against the pipeline operator could be as high as $10,000 per day per violation.
Enterprise Products could not be reached for comment about the commission's findings.
The explosion occurred when an employee of C&H Power Line Construction hired to dig holes for transmission lines was operating an auger and struck the pipeline. James Neese of Oklahoma was killed. His family and some of the other injured workers have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the pipeline operator.
Among the violations the Railroad Commission identified were that Enterprise did not provide temporary markings to identify buried pipelines before excavation began; failed to ensure that pipeline personnel were qualified; did not require an employee to submit to a post-accident alcohol test or drug test; and did not provide personnel evaluation procedures to make sure employees were familiar with GPS equipment to locate pipelines.
Enterprise also violated state regulations by failing to properly communicate with the excavation company, the commission concluded.
The agency's investigation also found that C&H Power Line Construction violated commission rules by not making sure the area to be excavated was clear of pipelines.