Federal investigators joined Iowa authorities to investigate an underground pipeline breach that released 138,000 gallons of diesel fuel in a farm field and surrounding land in north-central Iowa Jan. 25.
The pipeline is owned by Magellan Midstream Partners, a subsidiary of Magellan Pipeline Company, which has been fined several times over the last few years for numerous oil spills, most of which have occurred in the Midwest.
“It’s a big one. It’s significant,” Jeff Vansteenburg of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources told the Des Moines Register.
According to a safety plan Magellan submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the 2-inch pipeline involved in the Jan. 25 spill transports a multitude of refined oil products, including diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, natural gasoline, naptha, propane, natural gas, and butane.
The fuels are pushed under pressure through the subterranean pipeline, which runs through Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
“The product is under pressure, so as soon as a leak develops, it starts coming out pretty fast,” Mr. Vansteenburg told reporters. “Vacuum trucks are sucking up as much liquid as they can and taking that down to Magellan’s terminal … Once they’ve recovered all the free product that they can then they will go in and remove contaminated soil.”
On Jan. 19, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had reached a settlement with Magellan Pipeline Company, which required the company to pay a $2 million civil penalty and commit $16 million to safety improvements on about 11,000 miles of pipeline. The resolution stemmed from three previous oil spills in Texas City, Texas; Nemaha, Nebraska; and El Dorado, Kansas.
Other recent Magellan Pipeline spills have occurred near Decatur, Nebraska; Milford, Iowa; and Billings, Oklahoma, resulting in more than $450,000 in additional fines.