Federal and state agencies are suing two companies for civil penalties related to a 2013 oil spill that dumped nearly 6,000 barrels of crude oil in southwest Arkansas.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality filed suit July 13 in federal court in El Dorado against Delek Logistics Operating LLC and SALA Gathering Systems LLC, saying the oil spill on March 8, 2013, contaminated about 3.5 miles of waterways and affected wildlife and habitat.
The spill came about 20 days before the more publicized spill of about 3,200 barrels of crude oil in Mayflower that led to the evacuation 22 homes and concerns of health and environmental damage.
The EPA accused Delek and SALA of violating the federal Clean Water Act for unlawful discharge of oil, failure to prepare an adequate Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan, and failure to provide appropriate containment in case of a spill.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality wants civil penalties against the companies under the Arkansas Hazardous Waste Management Act, citing improper removal and disposal of contaminated soil and for water pollution in violation of the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act.
Keith Johnson, Delek Logistics Operating's vice president for investor relations, said Monday that the company had no comment on the lawsuit.
The 18-page complaint said the companies could be liable for penalties up to $1,100 per barrel of oil released into the environment under the Clean Water Act, or up to $4,300 per barrel if it is found the violations resulted from gross negligence or willful misconduct. The companies also could be liable for up to $37,500 per day for each Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan violation.
The state agency said the companies are liable for civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day per violation under the Arkansas Hazardous Waste Management Act and up to $10,000 per day per violation of the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act, the complaint said.
The state also wants the companies to remove any remaining pollution "to protect human health and the environment" and at the companies' expense.
According to the lawsuit, an underground strainer upstream from a pump at Magnolia Station ruptured shortly after the pump was turned off and another turned on.
After the spill, the suit said, the companies inspected the ruptured strainer, which was more than 60 years old, and determined the pipe at the point of the rupture was "severely pitted and corroded." The companies had no record of any maintenance or inspection performed on the strainer before it ruptured, the suit said.
The companies had a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan since 2012, the suit said, but the plan did not predict the direction or rate of flow and the amount of oil that would result from various major equipment failures.
"Defendants' experience indicates a reasonable potential for failure of the underground pipeline equipment in the area of the ruptured strainer, including, without limitation, the ruptured strainer," the suit said.
From the point of rupture, the suit said, oil flowed out of the strainer, saturated the soil and flowed across the facility. It pooled in a small containment pond that was designed to contain small discharges such as from loading and unloading trucks.
The oil overflowed the containment pond and flowed into a drainage ditch outside the station, and from the ditch into an unnamed creek. The oil flowed for more than 13 hours, the suit said, affecting a beaver dam area around the creek.
The oil flowed from the creek into the Little Cornie Bayou, affecting about 3.5 miles of the two waterways.
After the spill, the companies removed the contaminated soil and transported what the Department of Environmental Quality called hazardous waste using vehicles that weren't made for handling hazardous waste, the suit said. The suit also said the soil was dumped in a landfill that wasn't permitted to accept hazardous waste.
In August 2013, the agency sampled the ground along the entire spill pathway and found contaminants from the spill that included benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, according to the lawsuit.
State Desk on 07/24/2018
Print Headline: Federal, state agencies sue 2 firms over oil spill