A collection of environmental groups has filed a lawsuit against an oil pipeline company, claiming it has not done enough to clean up a 370,000-gallon leak that polluted water and soil in Anderson County two years ago.
The leak along the Plantation Pipe was discovered by residents near the town of Belton in 2014. Now the Southern Environmental Law Center has sued on behalf of the Savannah Riverkeeper and Upstate Forever against the pipe’s parent company Kinder Morgan. The lawsuit claims oil continues to be discharged from the rupture and that Kinder Morgan has not removed any petroleum from the site in 2016. It seeks roughly $30 million in penalties for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
“This spill occurred two years ago and yet it is still polluting the waterway,” SELC senior attorney Frank Holleman told South Carolina Radio Network. “You can still smell strong gasoline odors down at that site. And the gasoline pollutants continue to flow into the waterway.” Holleman said at least 170,000 gallons of contamination remain at the site.
The company responded to the suit by noting it has spent more than $4 million on cleanup and removed more than 209,000 gallons of product. Kinder Morgan said it has also submitted a corrective action plan to South Carolina regulators that would use a “Surface Water Protection System” and “biosparging wells” to help remediate the petroleum product which remains in the ground.
But Holleman and the Anderson County Council have previously complained they do not believe the plan does enough for the 107,000 gallons SELC said remains in the ground. Holleman said SELC findings have shown the contamination is worse than the company is reporting to South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley criticized the environmental group for not handing over its sampling data from the spill site a federal judge ordered it. “An organization that is truly committed to protecting the environment should be willing and eager to share its data and discuss potential remedial approaches without wasting the time and resources of the court and the parties involved,” he said in an emailed statement.
Two men who owned a farm near the site of the spill have also previously filed a suit against the company, seeking damages caused to their land by the leak.