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Cascade Agrees to Pay $75,000 to Settle Pipeline Safety Violations

Cascade Natural Gas Corp. has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty and improve its gas pipeline inspection and maintenance programs as part of a proposed settlement announced by Washington state regulators.

The Seattle, WA-based local distribution company (LDC) submitted the proposed settlement in late February for review and approval by the three-member Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC).

The settlement comes nearly three months after the WUTC filed a complaint against Cascade alleging 35 violations of federal and state pipeline rules identified during staff inspections of the company's facilities in Skagit and Whatcom Counties in 2003 and 2004. The settlement, if approved by the WUTC, would resolve this complaint.

During their inspections, Washington state pipeline safety inspectors found that the company's pipeline system repeatedly exceeded its maximum allowable pressure at four separate monitoring sites, and they also uncovered incidents where Cascade was not testing, inspecting or maintaining its natural gas system frequently enough to comply with federal regulations.

In agreeing to pay the penalty and accept WUTC's complaint, Cascade committed itself to an action plan that calls for the company to carry out a comprehensive review of its allowable pressure levels throughout its system and create a central source for that information, thus making it easier to identify and investigate any incidents when its pipeline pressure exceeds the allowed level. Cascade has pledged to complete the plan within one year.

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