A pair of South Carolina environmental groups has filed a lawsuit against Kinder Morgan, alleging the Houston-based pipeline company is dragging its feet on cleanup of a 2014 pipeline breach that spilled 370,000 gallons of gasoline into an Anderson County waterway.
Upstate Forever and Savannah Riverkeeper claim in their lawsuit that the 2014 spill continues to discharge harmful pollutants into a waterway that empties into three lakes and feeds the Savannah River, a major waterway that forms the border of South Carolina and Georgia.
“More than two years after this spill was discovered, Kinder Morgan is still polluting the waters of Anderson County and the Savannah River Basin,” a lawyer representing Upstate Forever and Savannah Riverkeeper said in a statement. “It’s well past time for Kinder Morgan to do everything necessary to clean up its spill and stop gasoline from flowing into our water.”
The spill, considered one of the worst in South Carolina’s history, occurred when a section of the 27-inch Plantation Pipeline broke as the result of a sleeve failure. The spill was first reported on Dec. 8, 2014, in the community of Belton, S.C. The Kinder Morgan pipeline runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the Washington D.C. area.
Tests conducted for the environmental groups show increasing levels of cancer-causing chemicals, including benzene, a chemical that disrupts the body’s ability to produce blood cells. Once in the body, benzene diminishes the bone marrow’s blood cell production, thereby promoting the development of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and other life-threatening diseases such as Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas, and Aplastic Anemia.
The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Kinder Morgan to stop contaminating the waterway, remove all spilled gasoline from the site, and implement more effective methods of treating the groundwater. Federal Clean Water Act violations could reach as high as $5,570 per violation per day, meaning Kinder Morgan could face multi-million dollar penalties.
“Our clean water is our most important resource,” Andrea Cooper, executive director of Upstate Forever, said in a statement. “Kinder Morgan has had two years to contain its huge gasoline spill, but [it] continues to pollute the Upstate’s precious clean water with gasoline and petroleum pollutants.”