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Government fines El Paso Corp., subsidiary $2.3 million in pipeline explosion

December 03, 2009
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The Transportation Department has fined the El Paso Corp. and a Colorado subsidiary $2.3 million for safety violations in connection with a pipeline explosion in Wyoming three years ago that killed one worker, according to the Associated Press. The fine is the largest it has levied against a pipeline company, the department said. The department initially proposed fining El Paso $3.3 million, but lowered the fine after an administrative appeal by the company. On Nov. 11, 2006, a bulldozer working on construction of the Rockies Express Pipeline project struck and ruptured a buried 36-inch natural gas pipeline owned by an El Paso subsidiary. The rupture caused an explosion and fire that scorched 600 acres. The bulldozer operator -- Bobby Ray Owens, Jr. of Louisiana -- was killed. The accident took place southwest of Cheyenne about two miles north of the Colorado border in a rural area with no structures nearby. An investigation by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration found the pipeline hadn''t been located and marked.
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