A Fatal Oversight

Even though human beings are, by far, the smartest and most skillful species our world has ever seen, it doesn’t save us from having our fair share of limitations. Talk about human limitations, they have showed up on the surface every now and then; with their each appearance naturally triggering some detrimental consequences. In fact, a few of these appearances have even caused irreparable damage in their wake, therefore forcing us to look for a reliable defensive cover. We will, on our part, find that cover once we bring dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined governing body within each and every area was a game-changer, as it suddenly made our entire spectrum look a lot safer than ever before. However, while the idea was clearly effective, it failed to adapt over time. This ensured a shift in power, making an unprecedented idea like technology the new centerpiece, and consequentially, the prime authority. Now, there is no doubt technology appeared on the scene bearing a ton of useful traits, but here, the creation’s loopholes were exposed. The rule breakers were able hide behind its layered nature. Such a dynamic, as you can guess, ended up causing significant unrest. Fortunately, though, the regulators are now coming out with a long-awaited response. The same is evident in a recently-proposed penalty.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has formally proposed a penalty worth $3,866,734 for the operator of a pipeline that ruptured in 2020 and severely affected over 45 people. In case you are not aware of what we are referring to here, a pipeline of Denbury Gulf Coast Pipeline burst open in Satartia, Mississippi, and coaxed more than 200 residents into evacuating their houses. According to certain reports, the rupture discharged around 30,000 barrels of liquid carbon dioxide, but PHMSA’s penalty isn’t just predicated upon the rupture itself. The administration accused Denbury of not reporting the incident in time even after detecting the CO2 release. This oversight will eventually trigger an investigation, which, in turn, would reveal that the company had failed to conduct the mandated routine inspections. Furthermore, PSMSA also learned how Denbury lacked written procedures “for conducting normal operations, as well as those that would allow the operator to appropriately respond to emergencies, such as guidelines for communicating with emergency responders.”

Apart from the penalty, PHMSA is planning to jot down specific rules for how to respond to such emergencies in future.

“As Denbury’s failure in Satartia, MS demonstrates, CO2 releases can be incredibly hazardous to our communities,” said Bill Caram, Pipeline Safety Trust Executive Director. “The list of proposed new CO2 pipeline projects seems to grow every week, which makes it all the more important to modernize our safety regulations immediately.”

The decision to introduce new regulations can prove vital, as US gears up for a historical drive to capture CO2.

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