Two Houston Companies Will Pay $1 Million for Natural Gas Pipeline Spills

Mid-America Pipeline Company, LLC (MAPCO), and Enterprise Products Operating LLC (Enterprise), of Houston, have agreed to pay a civil penalty of more than $1 million to the United States to settle violations of the federal Clean Water Act related to three natural gasoline pipeline spills in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

As part of a consent decree lodged today in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Neb., and in addition to paying the $1,042,000 civil penalty, the companies have agreed to undertake various measures aimed at reducing external threats to their pipeline, enhance their reporting of spills, and spend at least $200,000 to identify and prevent external threats to the pipeline involved in the spills.

MAPCO owns and Enterprise operates the 2,769-mile West Red Pipeline, which transports mixed natural gasoline products between Conway, Kan., and Pine Bend, Minn. The settlement resolves Clean Water Act violations related to three spills that occurred along the pipeline:

A March 29, 2007, rupture near Yutan, Neb., which caused the discharge of approximately 1,669 barrels of natural gasoline directly into an unnamed ditch and Otoe Creek.
An April 23, 2010, rupture near Niles, Kan., which caused the discharge of approximately 1,760 barrels of natural gasoline directly into an unnamed ditch, Cole Creek, Buckeye Creek and the Solomon River.

An August 13, 2011, rupture near Onawa, Iowa, which caused the discharge of approximately 818 barrels of natural gasoline directly into the Missouri River.

“More than 20,000 miles of pipeline, carrying oil and petroleum products, cross the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska in EPA’s Region 7,” EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “A frequent cause of pipeline breaks is the action of third parties during farming and excavation. This settlement requires the defendants to honor a schedule of pipeline inspections on the ground and from the air, and reach out to local agencies, contractors and excavators to make sure they are more fully aware of pipeline locations and depths.”

“This settlement requires proactive vigilance to ensure that our soil and waterways are protected from contaminants,” said Deborah R. Gilg, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska. “The agreement will result in safer pipeline operations and that will be good for Nebraska’s environment.”

In addition to the proactive inspections and outreach efforts, the settlement also requires MAPCO and Enterprise to spend $200,000 to relocate, cover, lower or replace pipeline segments; install new remote shutoff valves; install new physical protections such as fences or concrete barriers; and install other new equipment, structures or systems to prevent spills from reaching navigable waters.

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

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