Weld Records Fraud Found on Mariner East Pipeline in S.W. Penna.

by admin on March 23, 2020

Welded joints on Mariner East pipelines are supposed to be safe

Mariner East pipeline worker charged with felony for falsifying weld records

From an Article by Anya Litvak, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, March 19, 2020

A pipeline worker from Westmoreland County is expected to plead guilty to a felony for forging documents that said a weld on the Mariner East pipeline was properly X-rayed when, in reality, it was not.

Joshua Springer, of Scottdale, worked on Texas-based Energy Transfer’s Mariner East 2 pipeline project between May 2017 and June 2018, according to court documents.

For the most part, he was assigned to work on a 20-mile segment between Houston and Delmont. His job involved taking X-rays of welds, interpreting that data to ensure the weld was good and recording his findings in records that would go to Energy Transfer. It is not clear from the court records which company Mr. Springer worked for.

Documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania indicate Mr. Springer is scheduled to plead guilty to the charge during an April 1 hearing. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

But that’s unlikely to be the end of the story. A notification about Mr. Springer’s felony charge posted on the state Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General’s website indicates the investigation is ongoing and is being conducted with the FBI.

Energy Transfer spokeswoman Lisa Coleman said that the company’s outside auditors discovered the falsified records at some point in 2018, before the pipeline was put into service. The company X-rays all of its welds, which it credited with being able to detect the forged report.

“Immediately upon learning of the situation, we reported it to the appropriate regulatory agencies and the individual was terminated by his employer,” Ms. Coleman said. “We subsequently reinspected all welds in the section of pipeline where this individual worked and confirmed that the welds were in compliance with our welding specifications and Title 195 Code requirements.”

She said Energy Transfer cooperated with regulatory agencies, which “determined that we were not in violation of any regulations.”

The Mariner East pipelines — there are three that run mostly parallel to each other — carry natural gas liquids between the Marcellus and Utica Shales in Ohio, West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania to processing facilities near Philadelphia.

The $3 billion construction project has been plagued by a number of problems, including sinkholes, landslides, water contamination and other environmental permit violations.

On the pipeline safety and integrity front, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has sent Energy Transfer numerous warning letters over the course of Mariner East pipeline construction, alleging noncompliance with federal regulations and its own company policies.


Energy Transfer wants security, but the residents want safe neighborhoods

See also: State constables illegally paid in pipeline ‘buy-a-badge scheme,’ Chester County DA says; Philadelphia Inquirer, Vinny Vella, December 3, 2019

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