Oil Worker Faces Stiff Penalties After Airport Spill

 - January 15, 2015, 3:10 PM

A former Shell Pipeline employee is facing up to 15 years in prison and $19 million in restitution costs after pleading guilty in federal court to negligence that caused a 9,000-gallon jet fuel spill in 2012 at Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport. The worker, who had been with the company for two decades, was responsible for checking the integrity of pipelines that delivered fuel to the airport in accordance with the Pipeline Safety Act.

Lacking functioning monitoring equipment, which he apparently never sought to have replaced, he neglected to perform his bimonthly examinations and later, upon learning of a pending federal audit of the pipeline, falsified data suggesting the testing had been conducted and that the pipeline was in good condition. In fact, the pipeline was suffering from dangerous levels of corrosion. For six months in 2012, repairing the pipeline caused sporadic disruption in operations from the airport’s nearly 10,000-foot-long Runway 1/19.