Pierce County company penalized $10,000 for drilling into jet fuel pipeline

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PUYALLUP, Wash. — A communications company in Puyallup has agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty for violating Washington state's "Call Before You Dig" law that resulted in the puncture of a jet fuel pipeline, the State Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) announced Wednesday.

UTC officials said in a news release on Wednesday, "SEFNCO hit and punctured the 6-inch McChord Pipeline that transports jet fuel from a Tacoma tide flats refinery to Joint Base Lewis McChord," while drilling to install a cable line near Pacific Avenue in Tacoma on Aug. 2, 2017.

Officials ultimately recovered 6,500 gallons of the 7,500 gallons of jet fuel that leaked from the pipeline.

According to the news release, UTC investigators found that "SEFNCO failed to properly mark an excavation area before excavating, despite having a significant history of requesting utility locates, and recommended the commission issue the maximum penalty of $10,000 for the company’s negligence."

In May, the Transportation Commission and SEFNCO filed a settlement agreement in which the company agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty, but according to the agreement "the company neither admits the violation nor does commission staff concede that the violation did not occur."

State law requires excavators call 811 or submit a request online at callbeforeyoudig.org at least two business days prior to digging.

Penalties collected "are put into a damage prevention account and used for educational outreach designed to improve worker and public safety related to excavation and underground facilities," according to the UTC.

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