City gets jump on gas line repairs

The city of Enumclaw quickly jumped on top of repair work ordered by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, looking to head off any possible monetary penalties ordered by the state agency.

The city of Enumclaw quickly jumped on top of repair work ordered by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, looking to head off any possible monetary penalties ordered by the state agency.

As a result of those quick actions, the WUTC has decided to allow Enumclaw just two years to meet all the conditions in a proposed settlement relating to flaws found with the city’s natural gas delivery system. Initially, the state was leaning toward granting Enumclaw a three-year window to finish the required work.

“We kind of expected that would happen,” Public Works Director Chris Searcy said.

The revision to the work schedule is just one element of a mutually-agreed-upon settlement between the city and the Utilities and Transportation Commission. The settlement is a crucial step in a process that included threats of up to $11 million in penalties levied against the city and claims that Enumclaw had, for years, violated rules governing pipeline construction, maintenance and safety.

The ongoing issue came to a head in February when the WUTC issued a complaint against the city, alleging a minimum of 651 violations. The commission noted at that time that those violations, if proven true and not corrected, could result in a maximum penalty of $11 million.

By April, the two sides had agreed to use a WUTC-assigned mediator in an attempt to reach a settlement. An agreement, in principle, was quickly achieved and details were smoothed out during the summer.

According to a settlement agreement dated Aug. 25, the city “concurs that there were violations of state and federal rules regarding the inspection, monitoring and maintenance of its pipeline facilities and its records.” The WUTC has agreed to suspend all monetary penalties, provided the city meets the terms outlined in the agreement.

The proposed settlement gives the city credit in some cases and is harsh in others.

An example of WUTC criticism includes this:

“The City has a history, extending as far back as 16 years, of not complying with the Commission’s statutes and rules regarding natural gas safety. This history of repeated noncompliance results in the Commission viewing the current Settlement with some trepidation that the City will now take seriously its responsibility to maintain its pipeline facilities and records in accordance with all applicable statures and rules.”

On the other hand, the WUTC praises the city for “hiring an individual to manage the gas plant who appears to have not only the necessary experience to implement the terms of the Settlement, but an enthusiasm for and commitment to completing all necessary work in a timely manner.”

The settlement also points out that Enumclaw has already completed approximately 70 percent of the required work.

To encourage the city to continue its fast pace, the timeline was dropped from 36 months to 24 months. As an additional bit of oversight, the city must provide quarterly progress reports.

To comment on this story view it online at Reach Kevin Hanson at or 360-802-8205.

More in News

Crashed plane in Burnett, two injured

The Pierce County Sheriff Department said the plane lost power after taking off.

First family officially moves into Ten Trails

It was hard for the McFaddens to find a home, with houses flying off the market within days, even hours. So they told their agent to stop looking at what’s already been built, and start searching for what is going to be built, leading a family of six to the Black Diamond development.

King County Fair begins four-day run; Saturday brings handcars, parade to Wilkeson

The longest-running county fair west of the Mississippi River is back with some old favorites and new attractions.

White River’s Hawthorne earns spot in Virginia leadership camp

Hawthorne earned his Academy slot by virtue of his accomplishments both on and off the wrestling mat.

Toxic algae warning in Lake Tapps

Be careful swimming in the northeastern part of the lake.

State survey seeks information from SR 410 drivers

Make sure to let WSDOT know how you think traffic between Bonney Lake and Enumclaw can be improved by Sunday, July 22.

Sehr gut: Enumclaw student to spend senior year in Germany

Macie Bosik is excited to break the mould and do something different for her last year of high school.

EHS harriers pitching in with community service

The Hornet Team recently helped with the Miner’s Day 5K run in Black Diamond, and will be moving on to other projects later this summer.

Group moving ahead with plans for Mount Peak tower

The Mount Peak Historical Fire Lookout Association may have to shift where the tower would be placed, and the cost is estimated at $450,000.

Most Read