Exxon Mobil to pay $6 million in fines 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.

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 approximately 15,000 gallons of diesel and kerosene from the terminal into the Mystic River, DOJ said in a joint announcement with the Environmental Protection Agency and US Coast Guard.

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

The diesel leaked into a product receipt line which contained some 2,500 gal of low-sulfur kerosene and which contained a pressure relief valve capped by a badly corroded three-quarter inch coupling which had not been replace for more than 30 years, it indicated.

It said that the coupling eventually burst, sending the diesel and kerosene first 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 that the release of some 2,500 gal of kerosene and 12,700 gal of kerosene into the river created a blue-green sheen which eventually reached Boston Harbor, prompting several reports to the Coast Guard. It said that 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, $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 monitoring of the Everett terminal by a court-appointed official for the next three years, it said. The terminal also will be subject to a rigorous environmental compliance program, it said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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