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State waives portion of Cascade Natural Gas penalty

The state Department of Ecology has fined Concrete $12,800 for not properly maintaining and operating its plant that releases treated wastewater into the Baker River, which meets the Skagit River.
The state Department of Ecology has fined Concrete $12,800 for not properly maintaining and operating its plant that releases treated wastewater into the Baker River, which meets the Skagit River. Getty Images

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission this week waived a portion of a penalty against Cascade Natural Gas for safety violations along the company’s pipelines.

The commission waived $500,000 of the $2.5 million penalty that was included in a settlement reached in March 2017.

The commission waived that portion after finding that Cascade Natural Gas “demonstrated significant progress in compliance with its required safety validation program,” according to a news release.

The Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 requires pipeline operators to keep maximum pressure records to ensure pipelines are operated safely.

During inspections by the commission in 2013, Cascade Natural Gas was unable to provide those records for nearly 40 percent of its high-pressure pipelines in the state.

The settlement reached in 2017 required Cascade Natural Gas to complete the missing records for all of its pipelines and to have a third party audit the company’s pipeline safety management program.

Because those requirements were completed as of March, the commission agreed to waive part of the penalty.

“Cascade Natural Gas has met a number of conditions and requirements within the settlement,” the three-member commission wrote.

The settlement required Cascade Natural Gas to pay $1 million immediately.

The remaining $1 million of the penalty may also be waived if all remaining conditions are met.

Kennewick-based Cascade Natural Gas Corporation serves about 200,000 customers throughout the state.

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