Colonial Pipeline “significantly underestimated” amount of gasoline spilled in Huntersville

 

The Colonial Pipeline transports gasoline and other petroleum products from Texas to New Jersey; the route runs through part of North Carolina. (Map: Colonial Pipeline)

During a major spill in August, Colonial Pipeline released more gasoline into the environment than the company originally reported, the NC Department of Environmental Quality announced today. However, Colonial has not yet provided a new estimate.

From DEQ today:

Based on current information, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has determined that Colonial Pipeline has significantly underestimated the volume of gasoline released from the Aug. 14, 2020, spill in Mecklenburg County’s Oehler Nature Preserve near Huntersville’s town limits.

Colonial Pipeline estimated 272,580 gallons of product lost; however, the semi-weekly report provided on Tuesday, Nov. 3, indicates 267,313 gallons have been recovered so far. The amount and continued rate of free product recovery, along with other data submitted by Colonial Pipeline, indicate that the spill is significantly larger than initially reported. Colonial Pipeline has not provided a new estimated release volume. DEQ is requiring Colonial to recalculate the estimated release, and they will verify with a third-party consultant.

Since the spill was reported, DEQ has required Colonial Pipeline to take all appropriate actions to protect the community and will continue to do so throughout the cleanup process. Efforts underway include the sampling of drinking water wells, installation of monitoring and recovery wells and recovery/removal of gasoline.

At this time, the horizontal extent or boundary of the free product area has been defined, and monitoring wells have been installed around that perimeter to monitor for any further migration. Colonial Pipeline has installed pumps in the wells within the free product area and is actively recovering approximately 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of gasoline per day.”

As Policy Watch previously reported, Colonial has not been transparent about the severity of the spill, which occurred near several residential neighborhoods. DEQ has cited the company for groundwater violations, including levels of benzene, a known carcinogen.

The company has attributed the spill to a breach in a section of 42-year-old pipeline.

A 90-day accident report is due to federal and state regulators by Nov. 14.

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