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On the 20-year anniversary of the Bellingham Incident in Bellingham, Washington, Pipeliners Podcast host Russel Treat welcomes retired pipeline professional Larry Shelton to share his first-hand recollections and reflect on the importance of pipeline integrity management. Operations Excellence (OE) is the driving force of Mr. Shelton’s story. He defines OE as “achieving business goals with no harm to any person, property, or the environment.” Simply stated, the mantra is “Business Goals, No Harm.” The mantra has a deep emotional connection for Mr. Shelton, whose professional career was forever-changed in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska created a permanent mark for pipeliners such as himself working for the Alyeska Pipeline Service company. Ten years later, the Bellingham Incident forever altered the community of Bellingham, Washington. The Olympic Pipeline ruptured on June 10, 1999, due to a similar series of “domino” events as Exxon Valdez. At the time, Mr. Shelton was ARCO’s pipeline integrity representative. He walked the path of the gas rupture that cost human life. In those moments, he saw the human element of operational excellence, realizing that it dwarfs numbers, records, and programs. In the 20 years since the Bellingham Incident, Mr. Shelton has served on numerous industry committees and work groups, including chairman of the API Operations Technical Group. He also served on the Office of Pipeline Safety’s Hazardous Liquid Technical Advisory Committee. In his experience, Mr. Shelton has come to realize that “Business Goals, No Harm” is a difficult balance, but it must be done. Listen to his poignant reflections in this sobering and valuable episode of the Pipeliners Podcast.

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