Historical Gasoline Pipeline Release Evaluation
May 19, 2022
In 1968, an interstate petroleum products pipeline company first discovered a gasoline leak along the company’s right-of way in a rural community during a routine fly-over. Instead of assessing the true extent of the leak, the company simply removed a small amount of gasoline-impacted soil and paid local land owners a nominal dollar amount for damaged crops. The company reported to federal authorities that the leak volume was “unknown.” However, significant ground water contamination at a nearby chicken farm water well in 1993 (25 years later) triggered extensive investigations, remediation and toxic tort litigation.
Rimkus environmental engineers reviewed historical pipeline and regulatory agency documents on releases along the impacted pipeline and other company-owned pipelines, and on historical spill response practices. In addition, environmental investigation and remediation reports were thoroughly analyzed and critiqued. Rimkus staff inspected the spill site and participated in pipeline cathodic protection testing. Based on this information and the knowledge and experience of Rimkus personnel, Rimkus personnel provided testimony that the pipeline company should have known when it first discovered the leak in 1968 that the release would require a far more extensive emergency response, investigation, government reporting, and corrective action than the meager actions the company had taken. These actions would have mitigated subsequent environmental costs. Furthermore, Rimkus experts also opined that the 1993 environmental related cost estimates provided to the insurance carriers for coverage were substantially understated.