Two Texas companies have agreed to pay a civil penalty of just over one million dollars for three natural gasoline pipeline spills, including one in western Iowa. Natural gasoline is a liquid that come from natural gas that is blended with gasoline to improve its performance.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman, Chris Whitley, says the other spills happened near Yutan, Nebraska and Niles, Kansas in 2007 and 2010. “This is a negotiated settlement by the Department of Justice with these two companies — Mid-America Pipeline and Enterprise Products — for what’s referred to as the West Red Pipeline. That’s an approximately 2,800 mile pipeline that runs from Conway, Kansas to Pine Bend, Minnesota,” Whitley explains.
The spill in Onanwa on August 13th, 2011 led to 818 barrels of natural gasoline to be dumped into the Missouri River. “You may recall that this was when water was very high on the Missouri River and there were some concerns about whether there had been scouring in the river that could have affected pipelines running beneath the river. It’s not exactly clear yet, what exactly caused the breach,” Whitley says.
The spills in Nebraska and Kansas released over double the amounts of material released in Iowa, but he says they all were violations of the Clean Water Act. Whitley says the settlement requires action to try and prevent future spills. “The companies are going to spend at least 200-thousand dollars on a series of projects and improvements that are aimed at identifying and preventing external threats to the pipeline,” Whitley says.
“Whether that’s creating greater awareness of where pipelines are, or additional monitoring, there will be a number of different components to that.” The settlement reached in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Nebraska is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.