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MOBIL PIPE LINE COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/08/81)

decided: October 8, 1981.

MOBIL PIPE LINE COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, RESPONDENT. MELE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC., PETITIONER V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, RESPONDENT



Appeals from the Order of the Environmental Hearing Board in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources v. Mele Construction Co., Inc., Mobil Pipe Line Co. and Lower Lackawanna Valley Sanitary Authority, No. 76-044-CP-W.

COUNSEL

Ralph G. Wellington, with him Carl A. Salano, Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, for petitioner, Mobil Pipe Line Company.

Thomas M. Hart, for petitioner, Mele Construction Company, Inc.

Donald A. Brown, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Mencer, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 146]

These consolidated appeals have been brought from an order of the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB)

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 147]

    imposing civil penalties on Mele Construction Company, Inc. (Mele), in the amount of $3,500, and Mobil Pipe Line Company (Mobil), in the amount of $5,000, for violating Sections 301 and 307 of The Clean Streams Law (Act),*fn1 Act of June 22, 1937, P.L. 1987, as amended, 35 P.S. §§ 691.301, .307, and regulations of the Department of Environmental Resources (Department). We affirm the EHB's order as it pertains to Mele but reverse as it pertains to Mobil.

This case arose from the accidental discharge, on October 3, 1975, of approximately 98,500 gallons of gasoline into the Lackawanna River from an 8-inch pressure gasoline pipeline in Moosic Borough, Lackawanna

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 148]

County. The pipeline has been owned and operated by Mobil since its construction in 1947 or 1948. In 1971, the Lower Lackawanna Valley Sanitary Authority (Authority) contacted Mobil regarding the crossing of its pipeline by the Authority's proposed sewer line beneath the river. Mobil consented to the crossing, on the condition that it receive prior notification of any construction activity near the pipeline, in order that it might provide personnel to locate the pipeline and supervise excavation near it. The Authority agreed.

In April 1975, Mobil preliminarily located and staked the path of the pipeline for the Authority's engineers and contractors. At that time, it was determined that the pipeline did not traverse the river in a straight line but made an abrupt turn under the river several feet from its east bank. In May 1975, Mobil was notified that Mele, the Authority's contractor, would be engaged in construction activity in the area of the pipeline. During those times when Mele was engaged in installing the sewer line underneath the gasoline pipeline, Mobil maintained a supervisor at the construction site, during all working hours, who supervised the excavation in the area of Mobil's pipeline. Locating and uncovering the pipeline was completed by hand under Mobil's supervision. The EHB determined that the Mobil pipeline was between 2 and 3 feet below the bottom of the riverbed. Mobil's supervisor remained on the site to supervise the excavation for 5 days, until May 21, 1975.

While laying the sewer line, Mele inadvertently knocked some protective coating off the gasoline pipeline. This accident required that an additional section of pipeline be exposed in order to repair it. A 10-to-15-foot section of the pipeline was exposed to restore the coating. That portion of the pipeline

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 149]

    which was uncovered disclosed the bend in the line near the east bank of the river. Mr. Sam Mele, the superintendent of Mele, was present when that section of the pipeline was exposed and the bend in the line was visible to Mele employees. Before leaving the construction site on May 21, 1975, Mobil's supervisor asked Mr. Mele to contact Mobil if Mele intended to do ...


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