Exxon Mobil fined for 2006 Massachusetts spill

Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. agreed to pay more than $6 million in fines for a 2006 oil products spill near its Everett, Mass., terminal, the US Department of Justice said on Dec. 23.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 2 -- Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. agreed to pay more than $6 million in fines for a 2006 oil products spill near its Everett, Mass., terminal, the US Department of Justice said on Dec. 23.

The Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary was charged with violating the federal Clean Water Act in connection with the Jan. 9, 2006 spill of about 15,000 gallons of diesel and kerosine from the terminal into the Mystic River, DOJ said in a joint announcement with the Environmental Protection Agency and US Coast Guard.

They said the spill occurred during the unloading of low-sulfur diesel from a tanker when a 10-in. valve did not close completely. An outside contractor had pressure-tested the valve previously and told Exxon Mobil Pipeline it should be replaced, according to DOJ.

The diesel leaked into a product receipt line containing some 2,500 gal of low-sulfur kerosine. The line contained a pressure relief valve capped by a badly corroded 3/4 in. coupling that had not been replaced in more than 30 years, they indicated.

The coupling burst, sending diesel and kerosine into a containment pan and then into the river. The spill continued until about 5 a.m. Jan. 10 when pumping from the tanker ended.

DOJ said the release of some 2,500 gal of kerosine and 12,700 gal of kerosine into the river eventually reached Boston Harbor, prompting several reports to the Coast Guard. Terminal employees did not discover the ruptured coupling and overflowing containment pan until Coast Guard personnel arrived to ask questions about the sheen's origin.

As part of its plea agreement, which is subject to federal court approval, Exxon Mobil agreed to pay the maximum possible fine of $359,018, which included $179,634 in cleanup costs, and more than $5.6 million to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act fund to restore Massachusetts wetlands, DOJ said. The company also agreed to the monitoring of the Everett terminal by a court-appointed official for the next 3 years, they said. The terminal also will be subject to a rigorous environmental compliance program.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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