A Shake-Up At Olympic Pipe Line Co

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A Shake-Up At Olympic Pipe Line Co. Bp Managers Reassign Two Workers On Duty During Deadly Fire Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Publication date: 2000-08-04

BP, the oil giant that recently took over management of troubled Olympic Pipe Line Co., has reassigned two employees who had key positions in the control room during last year's deadly pipeline rupture and fire. Bobby Talley, Olympic's new vice president, identified the employees as Ron Brentson, a control-room supervisor, and Kevin Dyvig, a controller.

Talley said they were under stress from the accident and its aftermath. They will continue to work for Olympic.

The accident, which took the lives of an 18-year-old man and two 10-year-old boys, is the subject of a federal criminal investigation involving possible violations of pollution laws and an inquiry by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is trying to pinpoint a cause. In addition, lawsuits over the deaths of the two boys have been filed.

More than a half-dozen Olympic employees, including Brentson, have invoked Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to discuss the accident.

Brentson's lawyer confirmed his reassignment yesterday but would not comment further. Dyvig's attorney could not be reached for comment.

The control room in Renton played a crucial role in the June 10, 1999, accident in Bellingham. The computer system that runs the pipeline malfunctioned, and controllers shut the pipeline down. Then they restarted it, and gasoline continued to be pumped from refineries north of Bellingham into the leaking pipe.

Larry Peck, a BP pipeline general manager, told reporters yesterday that restarting the pipeline was a mistake.

BP managers also say they will not retain four Olympic employees. Talley would not name the employees or identify their positions.

Talley's comments came as he and other pipeline managers were introduced to reporters. A month ago, BP took over management of Olympic from fellow owner Equilon, a Shell and Texaco subsidiary that had run the pipeline. Two weeks ago BP bought GATX's 25 percent share in the pipeline. BP now owns 62.5 percent, and Equilon owns the rest.

BP expects to quickly produce a plan for maintaining and inspecting the pipeline. Employees will be retrained if needed.

Bob Batch, the new president of Olympic, said his operating philosophy will be "no harm to people or the environment."

Batch is from the environmental and safety side of the business.

Talley said BP has found shortcomings in the way the Olympic system was operated. Those deficiencies, he said, were in maintenance and the skill level of employees.

The accident's fallout will be BP's to bear for months to come. Peck said the company is cooperating with the safety board and has turned over 100,000 pages of documents.

The managers also said:

They have no plans to return with a new proposal for a fuel pipeline from Woodinville to the Tri-Cities. Olympic had proposed the pipeline, and a state panel was considering it in 1999. Olympic withdrew the proposal after the accident.

BP hopes to have the entire Ferndale-to-Portland pipeline up and running by the middle of 2001. Federal regulators have not allowed the pipeline in Whatcom County and part of Skagit County to be operated since the accident.

The company has completed internal inspections for corrosion and dents on much of the pipeline. Tests on the section from Renton to Portland are to be completed in a couple of weeks.

P-I reporter Scott Sunde

can be reached at 206-448-8331


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), August 06, 2000

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