Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

January 14, 2013

Tompkinsville, state agree on gas penalty

Glasgow Daily Times

TOMPKINSVILLE — The city of Tompkinsville and the Kentucky Public Service Commission have reached a settlement regarding deficiencies with the city’s natural gas system, according to officials with the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

The city has been assessed a penalty of $9,000, but is only required to pay $1,500 if paid within 30 days after the settlement was adopted and approved by the PSC.

The remaining $7,500 is suspended on the condition the city abides by the terms of the settlement agreement and provides all documentation prior to Jan. 1, 2016, according to the settlement agreement, which was published on the PSC’s website last week.

City commissioners were happy an agreement had been reached.

“At this point, we are pleased with how the PSC has handled this,” said Commissioner Jeff Harrison. “We have been and intend to comply with anything they need us to do.”

As for the amount of the fine, Harrison said, “I was pleased with the fine. I think everyone was.”

Mayor Jeff Proffitt declined to make a comment on the settlement.

In addition to the fine, the city is required to hire a qualified person to work full-time as a gas superintendent or have a contract in place with a qualified contractor to run its gas system by no later than April 30.

During the commission’s Dec. 10, special-called meeting, the city commission agreed to hire Shawn Martin as the city’s interim gas superintendent. Initially, Martin was hired to work for the city as a consultant. Martin took the interim gas superintendent job at no cost to the city and will serve in that position until the city can find someone to do the job on a more permanent basis.

Martin, who was initially hired by the city to serve as a consultant in August, has been working with the commission and other city officials in trying to remedy the problems with the city’s gas system.

In addition to hiring a full-time gas superintendent, the city is required to complete a leakage survey of the entire gas system within 30 days of the settlement being approved by the PSC. The city then has to submit all documentation generated in  effort to remedy the violations to the PSC within 10 days of the leakage survey.

The city is also required to conduct subsequent leakage surveys within its business district at least once every six months for the next three years, according to the settlement agreement.

Beginning this year and continuing through 2015, the city is also required to submit operator qualification records annually by June 30, and to submit a leakage survey, valve inspection, corrosion records and odorant tests within 15 days of completion to the PSC.

The city’s gas system will also be inspected for compliance with Pipeline Safety Regulations at least once each calendar year during the next three years.

The settlement agreement also states the city is to file with the PSC the cost of compliance it has incurred to date, as well as an estimate of future costs of compliance and documentation within 30 days of the settlement agreement being approved by the PSC.

The settlement agreement followed an informal conference city officials and Martin had with PSC officials on Dec. 7. It was the second conference of its type. The first informal conference between PSC and city officials took place on Nov. 2.

During the initial meeting, city officials stated no employees had become operator qualified, but that training was scheduled for Nov. 12-13, at Martin’s office in Richmond. City officials also said its operator qualification plan, public awareness plan had been put into place and were being followed, according to the settlement agreement.

Also during that meeting, city officials discussed the repairs that had been made to the gas system. Martin said more than 60 leaks had been located and repaired, and approximately 70 percent of the business district had been covered. He further stated the city had replaced approximately 1,500 feet of 2-inch pipe with plastic pipe in the downtown area and that the city had developed a five-year plan to eliminate all steel pipe from the system.

City officials agreed to file an updated response to each of the 14 cited deficiencies by Nov. 30, 2013, and to provide a list of names of the employees who attended the operator qualification training. They also assured PSC officials that personnel issues would be addressed for those employees who refused to attend the training.

During the second meeting, Martin told PSC officials that approximately 2,000 feet of pipe had been replaced with plastic and that 24 complete services had been replaced, as well as additional risers and above-ground pipe.

City officials stated the city had spent $169,000 to date correcting the deficiencies.