U.S. V. Colonial Pipeline Co.

*/ A workers inspects a ruptured steel pipeline. Courtesy of the NTSB.
Pipeline on slope showing side bend to the left beyond the rupture.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.

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In the News
February 25, 1999
Colonial Pipeline pleads guilty to oil spill in S.C. river. Company to pay record fine of $7 million, serve five-year probation term
The Justice Department announced today that Colonial Pipeline Company (CPC), operator of the largest-volume hazardous liquid pipeline in the world, pled guilty to criminal charges in connection with a spill of almost one million gallons of oil into the Reedy River in South Carolina.

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Updated April 13, 2015

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