The Justice Department has said it will go court to seek civilpenalties and an injunction against Williams’ Transcontinental GasPipe Line Co. unless the two sides can reach an agreement overalleged violations involving seepage of polychlorinated biphenylcontaminants along the pipeline’s route.

Justice spokeswoman Christine Romano confirmed that thedepartment sent Transco what is called a demand letter or anexecutive order letter, and that Transco responded saying it was”receptive to discussions with our attorneys over the concerns ofthe federal government.” She noted the demand letter was not acivil complaint.

The negotiations “could obviate the need for any complaint to befiled, or they could not,” Romano told NGI. If the talks betweenJustice and Transco should fail, the government then would go tocourt and seek “appropriate” penalties against the pipeline.

The Justice Department’s action, which was taken at the requestof the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), addresses thepipeline’s alleged violations of the Resource Conservation andRecovery Act (RCRA) and “some related water problems…atcompressor and metering stations along the pipeline,” she said.

In a prepared statement, Transco said it has been involved in”ongoing discussions” with the EPA over these issues. “We haveworked diligently to assure that we are in compliance with allapplicable environmental regulations, including the ones recentlycited by the U.S. Department of Justice. As is our practice, wehave and will continue to work closely with the EPA and appropriateagencies to address this matter.”

News of the Justice Department’s intent to possibly seek civilaction against Transco was disclosed in an Aug. 16th filing at theSecurities and Exchange Commission made by the pipeline’s parent,The Williams Cos. “DOJ has offered to discuss settlement of theclaim. While no specific amount was proposed, DOJ stated that anysettlement must include an appropriate civil penalty for thealleged violations,” the filing noted.

Susan Parker

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