Federal Rules Don’t Control Pipeline Reversals Like Exxon’s Burst Pegasus

The Pegasus pipeline that ruptured and spilled thousands of gallons of tar sands crude in Mayflower was 65 years old, and was initially built to carry thinner oil at lower pressure in the opposite direction than today. But seven years ago, when Exxon, the pipeline’s operator, turned it into a higher-volume line for diluted bitumen from Canada flowing under greater pressure to refineries on the Gulf Coast, federal rules did not require a new permit application or safety reviews, according to federal officials. “Our regulations don’t specify how much product a pipeline carries. There is no regulation if they want to change the type of crude they carry,” said Damon Hill, a spokesman for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a part of the Transportation Department. “As far as reversing the flow of a pipeline, it is not a safety issue.” To reverse the line that runs from Patoka, Ill. to Nederland, Te… more

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