Colonial Pipeline Company to pay $3.3M to Alabama for damages

A plume of smoke rises from the site of an explosion on the Colonial Pipeline on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. [Photo Credit: AP Photo | Brynn Anderson]

Both the Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), announced an agreement with the Colonial Pipeline Company on Thursday.

The agreement resolves environmental claims made when the company’s gasoline pipeline ruptured  in Shelby County, and three other areas in Alabama, in September and October 2016.

During the September 9, 2016 disaster, Colonial’s gasoline pipeline leaked into a rural area of Shelby county, southeast of Helena. While a portion of the gasoline was recovered, reports indicate that the pipeline leaked approximately 250,000 gallons into the area. The leak was caused by pipe fatigue that resulted from improper compaction of soil below that portion of the pipeline.

The October 31, 2016 pipeline explosion and fire killed one and injured six workers, and involved the release of over 180,000 gallons of gasoline near County Road 251 in Shelby County. Gov. Robert Bentley declared a month-long State of Emergency after the disaster.

It was reported that the explosion was caused by an accidental strike to the pipeline by excavating equipment. The strike to the pipeline ignited gasoline, which resulted in releases into the environment.

The three remaining releases totaled approximately 21 barrels of petroleum products, a portion of which was recovered.

“This agreement first and foremost addresses the environmental damage to land and water caused by significant gasoline spills in Shelby County during 2016,” said Marshall. “I am pleased by the outstanding work of ADEM’s legal team who worked closely with our lawyers to achieve a settlement which I believe is fair, reasonable and benefits the people of Alabama.”

The settlement includes several specifications for Colonial including:

  • Colonial must complete the cleanup of petroleum products released into the soil and waters of the State, which will be overseen by ADEM
  • $1.3 million civil penalty
  • $1.8 million in projects to benefit the State of Alabama
  • $200,000 to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as restitution for damages incurred by the closure of its Cahaba River Wildlife Management Area for nearly three months