Conservation Groups Sue Kinder Morgan for Water Pollution from 2014 South Carolina Pipeline Spill
Charleston, S.C.-The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing Upstate Forever and Savannah Riverkeeper, today filed suit against Kinder Morgan for its illegal pollution of Anderson County’s waters from a 2014 spill of at least 370,000 gallons of gasoline. Kinder Morgan’s gasoline spill from its Plantation Pipeline in Belton, S.C., was one of the largest in the state’s history and continues discharging petroleum pollutants into a waterway that flows into Broadway Lake, Lake Secession, Lake Russell, and the Savannah River.
“More than two years after this spill was discovered, Kinder Morgan is still polluting the waters of Anderson County and the Savannah River Basin, and at last count, the pollution was increasing,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It’s well past time for Kinder Morgan to do everything necessary to clean up its spill and stop gasoline from flowing into our water.”
The suit sets out violations of the federal Clean Water Act and was filed in United States District Court in Anderson. Earlier this year, Kinder Morgan proposed an inadequate cleanup plan that was roundly criticized by Anderson County Council and organizations and citizens who submitted comments on it. During 2016, Kinder Morgan has not removed any material amount of gasoline from the site, and at least 170,000 gallons have not been removed. In tests conducted in September 2016, the pollution of the waterway increased and was measured at many times the applicable standards.
“Our clean water is our most important resource,” said Andrea Cooper, executive director of Upstate Forever. “Kinder Morgan has had two years to contain its huge gasoline spill, but Kinder Morgan continues to pollute the Upstate’s precious clean water with gasoline and petroleum pollutants.”
Kinder Morgan itself never detected the spill. In December 2014, local residents noticed dead plants, gasoline fumes, and pools of gasoline on the ground. Kinder Morgan has had spills up and down its pipeline that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to Washington, D.C. Kinder Morgan had another spill in Anderson County before this one and yet another in Virginia since the Belton spill was discovered. Federal reports cite inadequate maintenance for many of Kinder Morgan spill's. The Belton spill occurred at an old patch that Kinder Morgan had not serviced in over 20 years.
“Because millions of people depend on the Savannah River watershed, pipeline spills cannot be allowed to go unchecked,” said Tonya Bonitatibus, the Savannah Riverkeeper. “Illegal polluters like Kinder Morgan should be obligated to act quickly and effectively in cases like these to stop their contamination of our clean water.”
The suit asks that the United States District Court require Kinder Morgan to stop discharging petroleum pollution into the waterway, that Kinder Morgan be required to remove gasoline from the site, that Kinder Morgan put in place more effective treatment of groundwater before it reaches the stream, and that Kinder Morgan be required to pay substantial fines for its continuing illegal pollution. Under the Clean Water Act, Kinder Morgan can be fined up to $51,570 per violation per day.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org