Sunoco Pipeline has agreed to pay civil penalties, state enforcement costs and to implement corrective measures following three crude oil spills in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
The action is to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and state environmental laws by Sunoco and Mid-Valley Pipeline Company.
Under a proposed consent decree lodged in the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Sunoco will pay the US $5 million in federal civil penalties for the Clean Water Act violations and pay the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality $4436,274.20 for civil penalties and response costs to resolve claims asserted in a complaint.
Additionally, Sunoco agreed to take actions to prevent future spills by identifying and remediating the types of problems that cause the prior spills. This includes performing pipeline inspections and repairing pipeline defects that could lead to future spills. Sunoco is also required to take steps to prevent and detect corrosion in pipeline segments that Sunoco is no longer using. Mid-Valley, the owner of the pipeline that spilled oil in Louisiana, is responsible, along with Sunoco, for payment of the civil penalties and state costs relating to the Louisiana spill.
Assistant attorney general Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Justice Department’s environmental and natural resources division says: ‘This settlement holds Sunoco and Mid-Valley accountable for the harms to the environment cause by their oil spills and requires Sunoco to improve its environmental safety compliance for the oil pipelines that it operates in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
‘This excellent result shows how a strong federal and state partnerships can bring about effective environmental enforcement to protect local communities in these states.’
The complaint alleges federal and state claims relating to three crude oil spills: a 2013 spill of 550 barrels in Tyler County, Texas; a 2014 spill of 4,500 barrels in Caddo Parish, near Mooringsport, Louisiana; and a 2015 spill of 40 barrels in Grant County, Oklahoma. The Texas spill affected Russell Creek, which flows to the Neches River. The Louisiana spill – the largest of the three – flowed to Tete Bayou, a tributary of Caddo Lake. The Oklahoma spill flowed into two creeks that flow to the Arkansas River, affecting an area of about a half a mile. All three spills were as a result of pipeline corrosion.