Oklahoma Pipeline Company Fined $3.3M for Jet Fuel Spill

DALLAS, Texas, January 9, 2009 (ENS) – An Oklahoma pipeline company will pay the federal government $3.3 million for spilling a large amount of jet fuel into a Texas creek in 2007.

The Explorer Pipeline Company of Tulsa has agreed to pay the civil penalty to resolve an alleged violation of the Clean Water Act stemming from a July 2007 spill of over 275,000 gallons of jet fuel from its interstate pipeline at a location near Huntsville, Texas.

The government complaint, which was filed on October 2, 2008 in District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleges that Explorer discharged oil into navigable waters of the United States in violation of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

Explorer owns and operates a 1,400 mile pipeline system that transports gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast across the Midwest to Chicago, serving 70 population centers in 16 states.

On July 14, 2007, Explorer’s 28-inch interstate refined petroleum products pipeline ruptured near Huntsville about 70 miles north of Houston and jet fuel spilled onto the surrounding area and into nearby Turkey Creek.

Turkey Creek flows to the Trinity River at the upper reaches of Lake Livingston.

Explorer Pipeline CEO Tim Felt said at the time that the leak occurred in a horse pasture. “Some product went into the creek bed, but response teams on site successfully blocked the product from going further downstream,” he said.

In responding to the spill, Explorer replaced the section of pipe that ruptured, completed cleanup of the impacted waters and adjoining shorelines, is cooperating in a joint federal and state natural resource damage assessment, the two federal agencies said.

A section of the Explorer pipeline, not the section where the 2007 leak occurred (Photo courtesy Explorer Pipeline Corp.)

The company has also begun additional assessment and followup work under a Corrective Action Order issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“Oil spills into our nation’s waters endanger public health and the environment and warrant concerted enforcement efforts,” said Ronald Tenpas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s settlement achieves an appropriate result and furthers our enforcement mission.”

“This settlement is the result of coordination and cooperation between a number of federal and state entities. EPA is committed to working with its state and federal partners to ensure a strong water protection program,” said Richard Greene, EPA Regional Administrator.

The $3.3 million penalty paid for this spill will be deposited in the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund managed by the National Pollution Fund Center.

The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is used to pay for federal response activities and to compensate for damages when there is a discharge or substantial threat of discharge of oil or hazardous substances to waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.

The proposed consent decree, lodged in the Southern District of Texas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court review and approval. View a copy of the consent decree at: www.usdoj.gov.

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