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Cascade Natural Gas found to lack pipe records, could face $4M penalty

CascadeNatural Gas Corp. lacks key records on 40% of its high-pressurepipelines in Washington state, said Washington Utilities and TransportationCommission staff, recommending a $4 million penalty for the utility.

A commission staff investigation concluded that Cascade hasnot maintained records related to the maximum allowable operating pressure, orMAOP, for at least 116 pipeline segments.

"Cascade has demonstrated a lax attitude towards compliancethat exposes the public to an unacceptable level of risk," WUTC staff said.

Shortcomings in MAOP documentation have been an ongoingproblem for the MDU ResourcesGroup Inc. subsidiary, the staff said. In 2013, the company failedto produce adequate pressure records during three inspections. Over 2015 and2016, the commission has been working to get Cascade to create a plan forgetting into compliance with MAOP requirements. That plan is still being reviewedby commission staff after it was submitted in late April.

Cascade said July 13 that it was still reviewing the staffcomplaint and investigation report.

"We take this complaint and the safety of our pipelinesystem seriously. We continue to work with the WUTC staff to finalize the MAOPcompliance plan that has been filed," Cascade spokesman Mark Hanson saidin a July 13 email. "We will follow the appropriate channels in regard tothe formal hearing process with the WUTC."

The three-member utility commission will take up the staff'scomplaint in an upcoming hearing.