WASHINGTON—The Explorer Pipeline Company has agreed to pay a $3.3 million civil penalty in order to resolve an alleged violation of the Clean Water Act stemming from a July 14, 2007, spill of over 6,500 barrels (approximately 275,000 gallons) of jet fuel from its interstate pipeline at a location near Huntsville, Texas, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.
The United States’ complaint, which was filed on Oct. 2, 2008 in the U.S. 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. On July 14, 2007, Explorer’s 28-inch interstate refined petroleum products pipeline ruptured near Huntsville 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.
In earlier responses 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, and commenced 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 J. 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 E. Greene, EPA Regional Administrator.
The Clean Water Act makes it unlawful to discharge oil or hazardous substances into or upon the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines in quantities that may be harmful to the environment or public health. The 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. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.