Colonial Pipeline Co., Atlanta, has pled guilty to federal charges and will pay a record $7 million fine for a June 1996 spill of 960,000 gal of diesel fuel in South Carolina.
The Justice Department filed the misdemeanor charge in South Carolina U.S. District Court, alleging Colonial violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when it failed to exercise reasonable care, leading to a pipeline rupture at a crossing of the Reedy River near Simpsonville, S.C. Justice said the spill, believed to be the sixth largest in U.S. history, affected a 23-mile segment of the river, killing 35,000 fish and affecting other wildlife.
During a 5-year probationary period, Colonial must develop and implement an environmental compliance program to prevent and detect problems on its entire 5,318-mile system between Houston and Linden, N.J. The court also required Colonial to make presentations to national pipeline associations regarding pipelines' CWA obligations. The line moves 75.9 million gal/day of petroleum products.
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