In Colonial Pipeline, the company (“CPC”), which operated the world's largest refined-petroleum pipeline (5,350 miles from Texas to New Jersey), pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) for negligently dumping nearly one million gallons of diesel fuel from a ruptured pipeline into the Reedy River near Simpsonville, South Carolina. The spill killed more than 35,000 fish and damaged the aquatic invertebrate population over a twenty-three-mile segment of the river. Wildlife, including beaver, muskrat, and turtles, were also killed by direct contact with the spilled oil.
The spill was the sixth largest in the country’s history at the time. CPC paid a $7 million fine and served a five-year term of probation. As a condition of probation, the company developed and implemented an extensive environmental compliance program to prevent and detect any further violations of the CWA. During probation, the company also was required to make presentations to national pipeline associations regarding their obligations under the CWA. On March 1, 1999, the company published a full page apology that appeared in The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Greenville News.