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Two Olympic Pipeline Executives Jailed in First-Ever Jail Terms in Pipeline Rupture Case

Two Olympic Pipeline Company executives were sentenced to jail by a U.S. District Court judge in Seattle, WA, the first jail terms ever received by pipeline managers in a pipeline rupture case. Former Olympic Manager Frank Hopf, Jr., of Woodlands, TX, was ordered to serve six months in prison and fined $1,000. Former Olympic Control Room Supervisor Ronald D. Brentson, of Kent, WA, was sentenced to 30 days in prison and fined $1,000. Control Operator Kevin S. Dyvig, of Buckley, WA, was placed on probation for one year. All three men pleaded guilty in December 2002 to criminal charges arising from rupture of the Olympic petroleum pipeline and subsequent gasoline explosion in Bellingham, Washington on June 10, 1999. The rupture resulted in the release of approximately 236,000 gallons of gasoline into two nearby creeks, where the gasoline ignited leading to three deaths and causing extensive damage to the waters, shorelines and other natural resources.

Under the terms of a plea agreement reached in December 2002, Olympic Pipeline Company and Equilon Pipeline Company (now operated by Shell Pipeline Company) were ordered to pay $36 million in combined fines and penalties. The criminal fines were the largest ever imposed in a pipeline rupture case. The case was investigated by OIG and EPA, with assistance from the FBI and state and local officials.