Kinder Morgan Sued for Water Pollution; from 2014 SC Pipeline Spill

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UPDATE:   5:05pm                                                       Please See Original Post Below

Kinder Morgan: Statement on Lawsuit

  • From the outset, Plantation Pipe Line Company has taken full responsibility for the spill and expressed our commitment to a thorough and complete investigation and remediation of the site in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.   Nothing in the SELC’s lawsuit changes that commitment.
  • Our investigation and remediation efforts to date have achieved significant measurable progress, and we have submitted a corrective action plan to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Conservation (SCDHEC).
  • Our commitment and comprehensive approach to the full remediation and restoration of this area has been well received by the State and we will continue these efforts, which take time.  It is not uncommon for remediation activities to proceed over multiple years. And we will continue these efforts until no further action is required.  Nothing in the SELC’s lawsuit changes that commitment.
  • We have spent approximately $4.3 million through September 2016 for remediation and repairs, and we’ve recovered 209,059 gallons of product and excavated and properly disposed of approximately 2,800 tons of petroleum-impacted soil offsite.
  • The long-term Corrective Action Plan, submitted to SCDHEC in September of 2016, includes the Surface Water Protection System as well as the installation of 49 horizontal and vertical biosparging wells within the main body of the impacted groundwater area.  The majority of this system has been already constructed and is expected to be operational in early 2017.  Rather than comply with a lawful subpoena, SELC for more than two months refused to share or produce the full data and results of water samples SELC has taken at the site — until it was recently ordered to do so by a federal judge.   Sharing test results and methodologies among interested stakeholders and the company responsible for the cleanup is common practice and demonstrates goodwill in working toward the same goal; namely, a comprehensive and thorough cleanup and restoration effort for the impacted area.
  • An organization that is truly committed to protecting the environment should be willing and eager to share its data and discuss potential remedial approaches without wasting the time and resources of the court and the parties involved.
 

(CHARLESTON, S.C.) –The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing Upstate Forever and Savannah Riverkeeper, today filed suit against Kinder Morgan for its illegal pollution of Anderson County’s waters from a 2014 spill of at least 370,000 gallons of gasoline.  Kinder Morgan’s gasoline spill from its Plantation Pipeline in Belton, S.C., was one of the largest in the state’s history and continues discharging petroleum pollutants into a waterway that flows into Broadway Lake, Lake Secession, Lake Russell, and the Savannah River.

“More than two years after this spill was discovered, Kinder Morgan is still polluting the waters of Anderson County and the Savannah River Basin, and at last count, the pollution was increasing,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.  “It’s well past time for Kinder Morgan to do everything necessary to clean up its spill and stop gasoline from flowing into our water.”

The suit sets out violations of the federal Clean Water Act and was filed in United States District Court in Anderson.  Earlier this year, Kinder Morgan proposed an inadequate cleanup plan that was roundly criticized by Anderson County Council and organizations and citizens who submitted comments on it.  During 2016, Kinder Morgan has not removed any material amount of gasoline from the site, and at least 170,000 gallons have not been removed.  In tests conducted in September 2016, the pollution of the waterway increased and was measured at many times the applicable standards.

“Our clean water is our most important resource,” said Andrea Cooper, executive director of Upstate Forever.  “Kinder Morgan has had two years to contain its huge gasoline spill, but Kinder Morgan continues to pollute the Upstate’s precious clean water with gasoline and petroleum pollutants.”

Kinder Morgan itself never detected the spill.  In December 2014, local residents noticed dead plants, gasoline fumes, and pools of gasoline on the ground.  Kinder Morgan has had spills up and down its pipeline that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to Washington, D.C.  Kinder Morgan had another spill in Anderson County before this one and yet another in Virginia since the Belton spill was discovered.  Federal reports cite inadequate maintenance for many of Kinder Morgan’s spills.  The Belton spill occurred at an old patch that Kinder Morgan had not serviced in over 20 years.

“Because millions of people depend on the Savannah River watershed, pipeline spills cannot be allowed to go unchecked,” said Tonya Bonitatibus, the Savannah Riverkeeper. “Illegal polluters like Kinder Morgan should be obligated to act quickly and effectively in cases like these to stop their contamination of our clean water.”

The suit asks that the United States District Court require Kinder Morgan to stop discharging petroleum pollution into the waterway, that Kinder Morgan be required to remove gasoline from the site, that Kinder Morgan put in place more effective treatment of groundwater before it reaches the stream, and that Kinder Morgan be required to pay substantial fines for its continuing illegal pollution.  Under the Clean Water Act, Kinder Morgan can be fined up to $51,570 per violation per day.

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