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LANG ET AL. v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (03/24/66)

decided: March 24, 1966.

LANG ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION



Appeal from orders of Public Utility Commission, No. 17,915, in case of Frederic A. Lang et al. v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission et al.

COUNSEL

Fred T. Cadmus, III, with him David C. Patten, for appellants.

Miles Warner, Assistant Counsel, with him Joseph C. Bruno, Chief Counsel, for Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, appellee.

Peter Platten, with him Frederic L. Ballard, Jack Vickrey, Howard D. McCloud, and Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, for intervening appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Wright and Flood, JJ., absent). Opinion by Ervin, P. J. Watkins, J., would affirm the order of the Commission.

Author: Ervin

[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 314]

The present appeals grow out of a complaint filed by Frederic A. Lang and his wife, and Edward James, November 15, 1963, averring that Colonial Pipeline Company of Pennsylvania was about to construct, across their land and near their homes, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a high pressure 30-inch diameter pipeline to transport gasoline and other highly dangerous petroleum products. The complaint averred the pipe was of insufficient thickness; that inspection procedures

[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 315]

    of welds and joints were unsafe, the line laid at an insufficient depth, and that any break in the line would constitute a fire and explosion hazard as to complainants. Complainants asked the Commission to order the utility to stay construction of the pipeline and fix a hearing on the merits, including the utility's right to exercise the power of eminent domain.

On November 30, 1963 Colonial moved to dismiss the complaint and/or stay proceedings citing the pendency in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County of a suit in equity which it had filed to obtain an injunction restraining two of the complainants from interfering with the construction of its pipeline. Colonial also alleged the Commission lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint. In its order of December 9, 1963, the Commission held it had jurisdiction of the complaint and denied the motion to dismiss. The Commission noted that it had certificated Colonial in 1962 as a public utility, for the purpose of transporting petroleum products by pipeline in Pennsylvania, and that Colonial was, under § 401 of the Public Utility Law, 66 PS § 1171, required to furnish "safe and reasonable service and facilities" and to maintain them in such manner "as shall be necessary or proper for the . . . safety of its patrons, employes and the public."

Colonial filed its answer admitting construction of the 30-inch pipeline which originated in Texas and ran 1600 miles through fourteen states, terminating in the New York Harbor Area, with 30 miles of trunk line located in Pennsylvania. Colonial denied the line was in any way unsafe, or that it lacked the right of eminent domain. The answer stated that radiograph inspections were made of 15-25% of the pipeline welds and that the line was later filled with water and subjected to a hydrostatic test of 125% of maximum operating pressures. Colonial's plans specify a minimum

[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 316]

    earth depth of 30 inches. Colonial renewed its motion to dismiss the complaint, adding that its pipeline was operated wholly in interstate commerce and that the relief requested ...


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