Story at a glance

  • Colonial Pipeline, the company that operates the pipeline, initially reported that 63,000 gallons were spilled, an estimate that was raised about a month later to 237,000 gallons.
  • A report provided by Colonial shows the spill was more than four times the size, with about 1.2 million gallons released in the region.
  • So far, no water supply contamination has been found from the gas leak and more than 660,000 gallons of gasoline have been recovered from the site.

A gas spill that leaked into a North Carolina nature preserve last year is much worse than initially thought. 

In August 2020, a crack in a gasoline pipeline caused gas to spill into Mecklenburg County’s 142-acre Oehler Nature Preserve near Huntersville, which is just 15 miles north of Charlotte. 


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Colonial Pipeline, the company that operates the pipeline, initially reported that 63,000 gallons were spilled, an estimate that was raised about a month later to 272,000 gallons. 

But on Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said a report provided by Colonial shows the spill was more than four times the size, with about 1.2 million gallons released in the region. 

“The size and scope of this spill requires a rigorous approach to oversight and remediation,” Michael Scott, division of waste management director, said in a press release. 

“We will do a thorough review of the information provided, as it is vital to determine the full extent of the impact in order to guide the cleanup and protection of public health and the environment. DEQ will continue to hold Colonial accountable and oversee their cleanup efforts.” 

In November, DEQ required Colonial Pipeline to recalculate previous estimates after coming to the conclusion the company had significantly underestimated the volume of gas that was released. 

So far, no water supply contamination has been found from the gas leak, and more than 660,000 gallons of gasoline have been recovered from the site. DEQ said Colonial is removing about 3,000 to 5,000 gallons per day. 

Authorities say they’re closely monitoring the investigation and clean-up efforts and will pursue appropriate enforcement actions as necessary. 


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Published on Jan 22, 2021