Olympic sentencing delayed
Bellingham Herald
3 June 2003

LEGAL: Penalties in 1999 rupture to be announced June 18.

The sentencing of current and former Olympic Pipe Line Co. employees on criminal charges has been delayed again, this time until June 18, said John Hardingh of the U.S. District Attorney's Office.

The sentencing was originally scheduled to occur in April, then was delayed until Monday.

According to plea agreements made in U.S. District Court, Olympic and Shell (formerly Equilon) pipeline companies have agreed to pay a total of $36 million in civil and criminal fines connected to a 1999 pipeline rupture and explosion in Whatcom Falls Park.

Three employees face jail time for related charges.

The employees and a representative of Olympic entered guilty pleas to various felony and misdemeanor charges on Dec. 11. A representative of Shell pleaded "no contest" to similar charges.

The companies and employees were indicted by a federal grand jury for violations of the federal Clean Water Act and Hazardous Pipeline Safety Act.

On June 10, 1999, the Olympic pipeline ruptured, spilling 237,000 gallons of gasoline into Whatcom and Hannah Creeks.

Three Bellingham youths died as a result of the rupture, explosion and resulting fire, which burned 1 1/2 miles of the creek.

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