Story at a glance
- New documents reveal more than 300,000 gallons of oil spilled from a pipeline in New Orleans.
- The spill occurred in a section of pipe that had previously been flagged as needing repairs.
- However, repairs were delayed, and on Dec. 27 an oil spill was eventually detected.
A pipeline ruptured a few hundred feet from the Mississippi River in New Orleans last month, spilling more than 300,000 gallons of oil, and reports of the spill are only now being discovered.
The oil spill stemmed from a pipeline operated by Collins Pipeline Co. and was discovered on Dec. 27 near a levee in St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans, according to The Associated Press. More than 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel were spilled, contaminating soil and creating a pool of diesel in an environmentally sensitive area a few hundred feet from the Mississippi River.
Collins Pipeline Co. is a subsidiary of PBF Energy Inc., one the largest independent petroleum refineries in the U.S.
An inspection of the 42-year-old Meraux Pipeline back in October 2020 found external corrosion along a 22-foot section of pipe in the same area as the spill occurred. According to the AP, repairs were delayed, and the pipeline continued to be used after another inspection found that the corrosion wasn’t severe enough to require a fix immediately.
Bill Caram, with the Pipeline Safety Trust, told the AP that the corrosion of the pipeline was known about for over a year prior to the spill yet fuel continued to flow through the 125-mile-long line from a refinery in Chalmette to a storage terminal in Collins, Miss.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says oil spills can physically harm plants and animals and can cause severe health problems like heart damage, stunted growth, immune system effects and even death.
According to the AP, a PBF Energy representative said in an email back in October 2021 that the company was still awaiting federal and state approval to fix the corrosion on the pipeline where the oil spill occurred.
However, the company did reduce the pressure inside the pipeline in November 2020, shortly after the corrosion was first discovered. Then it was further reduced in November 2021 because repairs had not been completed within the time frame requested under federal regulations, according to the AP.
It wasn’t until Dec. 30 that an order from federal officials came down to keep the pipeline shut down until repairs were complete. Federal officials said the oil spill was “likely localized corrosion and metal loss.”
More work was expected to be done later this month on the pipeline once the company received the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
It’s not yet clear how much damage the oil spill has caused.
Changing America has reached out for comment from PBF Energy Inc.
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