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Accident Report Detail

Rupture of Piney Point Oil Pipeline and Release of Fuel Oil

Executive Summary

On the morning of April 7, 2000, the Piney Point Oil Pipeline system, which was owned by the Potomac Electric Power Company, experienced a pipe failure at the Chalk Point Generating Station in southeastern Prince George’s County, Maryland. The release was not discovered and addressed by the contract operating company, Support Terminal Services, Inc., until the late afternoon. Approximately 140,400 gallons of fuel oil were released into the surrounding wetlands and Swanson Creek and, subsequently, the Patuxent River as a result of the accident. No injuries were caused by the accident, which cost approximately $71 million for environmental response and clean-up operations.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the April 7, 2000, Piney Point Oil Pipeline accident at the Potomac Electric Power Company’s Chalk Point, Maryland, generating station was a fracture in a buckle in the pipe that was undiscovered because the data from an in-line inspection tool were interpreted inaccurately as representing a T-piece. Contributing to the magnitude of the fuel oil release were inadequate operating procedures and practices for monitoring the flow of fuel oil through the pipeline to ensure timely leak detection.

Accident Location: Chalk Point , MD    
Accident Date: 4/7/2000
Accident ID: DCA00MP006

Date Adopted: 7/23/2002
NTSB Number: PAR-02-01
NTIS Number: PB2002-916501