ONEOK Partners loses court decision on Kansas plant regulation
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 08, 2012
12/08/12 at 4:32 AM
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A Tulsa federal magistrate Friday recommended that a U.S. district judge deny ONEOK Partners LP's request to stop federal pipeline regulators from inspecting its natural gas liquids fractionation plant in Bushton, Kan.
Tulsa-based ONEOK Partners had asked the federal court to grant a temporary restraining order against the upcoming inspection of the Bushton plant by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The company argued that the plant already was under the oversight of two other federal regulatory bodies and that the PHMSA was overstepping its jurisdictional boundaries.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank H. McCarthy, however, sided against ONEOK Partners. The partnership can object to his recommendation, which now goes to U.S. District Judge James H. Payne.
"The harm that ONEOK argues will result is not from the inspection itself," McCarthy wrote in his recommendation.
The document notes that the Bushton plant was designed and constructed according to standards for process piping rather than industry standards for pipelines. ONEOK Partners had argued that PHMSA has jurisdiction only over pipelines going into and out of the fractionation plant.
"ONEOK has not demonstrated that the harm would come to pass before the court can resolve the issues raised in this action," McCarthy wrote. "There has been no proof that a notice of probable violation would occur immediately after inspection on Dec. 10, 2012, or even quickly thereafter."
The dispute dates back to at least August 2011. Earlier this week, ONEOK Partners filed for the temporary restraining order.
"Although PHMSA has jurisdiction over our pipeline systems into and out of the plant, the Bushton NGL fractionation plant is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency," Pierce H. Norton, chief operating officer of ONEOK Partners, said in a statement.
Original Print Headline: ONEOK loses decision on Kansas plant
Rod Walton 918-581-8457