Welcome to The Source for Bellingham and Whatcom County news.
home • news • classifieds • entertainment • real estate • cars • jobs • personals • herald services
• directory of services
• subscribe now
• contact us

• weather
• news archive
• world news
• season of the arts
• reunions

• main page
• news
• entertainment
• outdoors
• eTechnology
• classifieds
• real estate
• communities
• cars online
• jobs
• personals

• contact us
• customer service
• subscribe
• advertise
• about us

• feedback form
• submit

• submit news
• news archive
• classifieds
• obituaries
• homes & real estate
• new & used cars
• jobs
• personals
 centennial Herald Masthead 
  home > news > centennial front > Monday, October 20, 2003 

Olympic pipeline disaster spurred changes
Bellingham resident Kelly Miller looks at the devastated Whatcom Creek in Bellingham after a gasoline pipeline exploded sending a fireball down the creek June 10, 1999. HERALD PHOTO

n June 10, 1999, Bellingham residents were literally shaken by the fiery explosion of the Olympic pipeline when it ruptured and spilled 276,000 gallons of gasoline into Whatcom and Hannah creeks.

The disaster at Whatcom Falls Park prompted Congress to improve pipeline safety and resulted in rare convictions and major legal settlements.

The pipeline moves fuel south from four refineries in Whatcom and Skagit counties. When the gasoline ignited, the instant fire charred nearly a mile and a half of Whatcom Creek. Three people died: Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas, 10-year-old friends playing in the park, and 18-year-old Liam Wood, was fly-fishing in Whatcom Creek.

Investigators decided a series of events led to the disaster, including Olympic's failure to correct a problem at a transfer station that had caused repeated pressure surges along the line. On June 10, high pressure ruptured a section of the line that had been damaged during earlier construction work in the park.

Olympic and fuel companies that once owned part of the pipeline paid $75 million to the families of King and Tsiorvas to settle their lawsuit. Wood's family reached a private settlement.

In addition, two former Olympic employees pleaded guilty to felony pipeline safety charges: one got six months behind bars; the other got 30 days. A third employee pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Olympic and its then-owners also agreed to pay $36 million in civil and criminal penalties as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

- Ericka Pizzillo

  [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Herald logo
home • news • classifieds • entertainment • real estate • cars • jobs • personals • herald services
Copyright © 2002, The Bellingham Herald. 1155 N. State. St., Bellingham, WA 98225, Phone (360) 676-2600.
Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Service (updated 12/20/2002).