A pipeline breach in a pipeline owned and operated by Plains All American Pipeline of Houston, Texas, released 4,200 gallons of crude oil in southwestern Illinois, about 40 miles northwest of St. Louis, Mo. The July 10 spill occurred less than two months after the same company spilled more than 100,000 gallons of oil from a pipeline in Southern California, some of which flowed into the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara.
Plains All American Pipeline said the spill occurred at its Pocahontas Pump Station near the border of Bond and Madison Counties in Illinois. Workers were able to stop the spill, but not before much of it flowed into a nearby creek.
The company said first responders deployed oil booms in nearby waterways in an effort to contain the slick and “limit the environmental impact from the release.” The spill contaminated Silver Creek and threatened to flow into Highland Silver Lake, a 574-acre lake used for fishing and recreation.
Environmental scientists contracted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were monitoring the affected areas for ground, water, and air contamination.
The response included a unified command shared by the EPA, Plains All American Pipeline, and the city of Highland, Ill. The command deployed more than 120 responders and 2,700 feet of boom. The cleanup and containment efforts also involved nine vacuum trucks, 17 watercraft, and a helicopter for aerial observation of the spill’s movement.
“Plains sincerely regrets that this incident has occurred and apologizes for any inconvenience to area residents and impact to the environment,” the company said.
On May 19, a highly eroded pipe carrying oil from storage tanks in Las Flores, Calif., to a pumping station 200 miles north in Gaviotas, ruptured and released an estimated 101,000 gallons of crude oil. According to the Refugio Incident Unified Command, an estimated 21,000 gallons of that spill traveled down a culvert into the Pacific Ocean.
Tests conducted before and after the California spill showed several sections of the pipeline to be severely eroded.
A preliminary report by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration identified four areas of the Illinois pipeline that showed “pipe anomalies requiring immediate investigation and remediation.” Plains All American Pipeline confirmed it had received the government’s order for corrective action.