WASHINGTON—Plantation Pipe Line Company, Alpharetta, Ga., has agreed to pay a civil penalty and implement safeguards in order to resolve a Clean Water Act lawsuit over fuel pipeline spills in three states, the Justice Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state of North Carolina announced.
The company has agreed to pay a $725,000 penalty for discharges of jet fuel and gasoline in Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina, and for inadequate spill prevention safeguards at a Virginia facility. The company also has agreed to implement $1.3 million in new spill prevention safeguards.
“Companies like Plantation Pipe Line that operate oil production infrastructure have a responsibility to ensure the safety and integrity of their operations,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We continue to work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce this nation's environmental laws.”
“Federal oil pollution prevention requirements, along with regular pipeline upgrades, are designed to prevent the kinds of oil spills that have occurred on Plantation’s pipeline system,” said Donald Welsh, administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. “The pipeline upgrades required in this settlement will help protect the environment by preventing future spills.”
“Oil spills can cause significant harm to the environment,” said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. “EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oils follow established procedures to minimize risk to our water and sensitive ecosystems.”
The lawsuit cited Plantation for four separate fuel spills from 2000 to 2006, totaling 1,005 barrels (or 42,210 gallons):
The lawsuit also cited Plantation Pipe Line for failing to prepare and implement a required spill prevention, control and countermeasure plan for a 420,000-gallon oil storage tank at its Newington, Va., facility.
The settlement requires Plantation to pay a $715,000 penalty to the federal government’s Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and $10,000 to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In addition, the company will implement $1.3 million in spill prevention safeguards, including upgrades to pipelines and excavating buried valves to improve regular inspection capabilities.
The Clean Water Act prohibits discharges of oil into waterways and coastal areas in quantities that may be harmful to the environment or public health. Oil spills threaten both fresh water and marine environments, harming plant and animal life through physical damage and the toxicity of the oil itself, which may poison exposed organisms. For more information on the effects and cleanups of oil spills, visit: http://www.epa.gov/oilspill.
The proposed consent decree, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of EPA and North Carolina, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the proposed consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.