Georgia based Colonial Pipeline has announced an agreement with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to settle civil claims against the company for several past releases of petroleum into water.
In this settlement, Colonial has agreed to pay $34 million in penalties to the United States under the provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to resolve the civil lawsuit filed in November of 2000 on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In addition to the monetary fine, Colonial has agreed to designate 100 percent of the pipeline as a ‘high consequence area’ as defined by the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) federal pipeline regulations, and to undertake six additional activities specified in the Consent Decree. The activities covered by the Consent Decree parallel system integrity activities that are already said to be performed by the company.
The Consent Decree reaffirms that the Office of Pipeline Safety, not the Environmental Protection Agency, has jurisdiction and enforcement responsibilities for pipeline operations.
‘Colonial has worked diligently with DOJ for several years to negotiate a settlement,’ stated Colonial CEO David Lemmon. ‘We are pleased that this has been accomplished and this legacy issue put behind us.’
Without waiting to settle the outstanding civil action, which seeks civil penalties for releases dating back to 1996, Colonial is said to have moved aggressively to change its management and improve operating performance.
‘Commitment to safety and preservation of the environment is and always will be the number one priority at Colonial,’ stated Lemmon. ‘That said, we strive every day to continually improve our company with our goal being zero spills and zero errors.’