Environmental Protection

Pipeline Co. Settles Petroleum Spills across States

Magellan Midstream Partners agreed to pay a $5.3 million civil penalty for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice.

The alleged violations include illegally discharging gasoline and fuel oil from pipelines in Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, and Arkansas into nearby waterways over the past 10 years.

"[This] penalty should serve as a reminder that the Department of Justice and the EPA will pursue those who fail to comply with the laws that protect our environment," said Ronald J. Tenpas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This agreement will also ensure that the company will take steps to prevent members of the general public from accidentally damaging this pipeline, the most common cause of the pipeline spills addressed in this action."

According to the complaint, the company allegedly discharged more than 17,000 barrels of gasoline and fuel oil on 11 different dates between March 1999 and May 2006. Two of the largest spills flowed into a tributary and into the Missouri River in 1999 and 2005. In 2005, approximately 2,830 barrels of unleaded gasoline spilled from a ruptured pipe near Kansas City, Kan., most of which flowed into the Missouri River, and in 1999, more than 4,500 barrels of diesel fuel spilled into the Missouri River near Atchison, Kan.

The spills had a number of causes, including third-party damage from farm equipment and bulldozers, corrosion, leaks, and pipeline operator error.

The company agreed to resolve allegations related to Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations for violations found at two facilities in Iowa and Nebraska. SPCC regulations cover the prevention, preparation for, and response to oil spills or hazardous substances that may reach surface waters.

Magellan will set up a program to minimize third-party damage to the pipeline system and will spend $750,000 on removing or minimizing any external threats along selected segments of its pipeline. The company will implement systemwide changes to improve employee training, leak response procedures, and protocols for detecting and responding to leaks and ruptures.

Magellan is the owner and operator of the 6,700-mile petroleum pipeline network and 39 terminal facilities in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The pipeline transports petroleum products including gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel from refineries through interconnections with other interstate pipelines to retail gasoline stations, truck stops, railroads, airports, and other end users.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for Kansas is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Magellan is required to pay the penalty within 30 days of the court's approval of the settlement.

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