Zero Public Support Expressed for Kinder Morgan Cleanup Plan
Belton, S.C. – Not a single public comment gathered in response to Kinder Morgan’s proposed gasoline cleanup plan voiced any support for the company’s long-delayed efforts to restore waterways and wetlands fouled by a 2014 pipeline rupture.
The majority of the comments also urged the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to take a tougher stance on the company and speed the pace of remediation.
The more than 100 written comments came from local residents, scientists, elected officials, business owners, university professors and landowners. Most expressed frustration with the slow pace of the cleanup and a worry that Kinder Morgan would not satisfactorily restore the area.
- “I am concerned that businesses like this are allowed to seemingly do as they please without regard or concern to the hard working citizens of the area …”
- “Do not let Kinder Morgan walk away. Hold this company accountable.”
- “…[P]lease put a stop to the foot dragging taking place at Kinder Morgan with the cleanup of the Belton spill.”
“The citizens have spoken,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, representing Upstate Forever and the Savannah Riverkeeper. “Kinder Morgan must keep its gasoline out of Anderson County’s waters and do more to clean up this spill.”
DHEC in December published Kinder Morgan’s proposed cleanup plan and asked for public comments. That came two years after neighbors in Belton noticed gasoline pooling on the ground near the Plantation Pipeline in Anderson County.
The pipeline had ruptured from an aging patch and — unnoticed by the company — spilled 370,000 gallons into the environment.
Kinder Morgan records released last year show the company extracted about half the gasoline, but more than 160,000 gallons remain in the creek, groundwater and wetlands. The polluted waterway flows into Broadway Lake, Lake Secession, and Lake Russell on the Savannah River. The spill is one of the largest in South Carolina history.
SELC, Upstate Forever and the Savannah Riverkeeper have filed a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit against Kinder Morgan. The suit seeks to require Kinder Morgan to take additional steps to protect the waterway and to clean up the spill. The suit also asks for penalties of up to $50,000 per day to encourage Kinder Morgan to maintain its pipeline more effectively, and to discourage spills in the future.
“Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is a constant threat to the waters of the Savannah River basin,” said Tonya Bonitatibus, the Savannah Riverkeeper. “Citizens agree across the board that Kinder Morgan must protect our water by cleaning up all its gasoline pollution.”
A recent SELC site visit revealed gasoline is still visible on the water’s surface. Gasoline fumes also remain.
The cleanup plan Kinder Morgan submitted to the state does not require it to continue removing gasoline from the site. The plan also does not require adequate treatment and intervention to prevent gasoline from continuing to flow into the waterway. The public comments will help DHEC decide whether to accept Kinder Morgan’s plan.
“We cannot let the Upstate’s waters be polluted by unnecessary and preventable pipeline spills,” said Andrea Cooper, executive director of Upstate Forever. “Our citizens, farmers, communities, and businesses depend upon clean water, and Kinder Morgan must act quickly to protect our water from its gasoline spill.”
Anderson County late last year passed a resolution pushing Kinder Morgan to quicken the pace of the cleanup.
Kinder Morgan is a multi-billion-dollar international petroleum pipeline company based in Houston, Texas. Its Plantation Pipeline passes through the Upstate of South Carolina, from the Gulf of Mexico to Washington, D.C.