NC judge signs off on agreement over Colonial gasoline spill

July 8, 2022 GMT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina judge has signed off on a previously announced agreement between state environmental regulators and Colonial Pipeline for a 2020 gasoline spill in a nature reserve that turned out to be larger than the company initially described.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Kimberly Best approved the consent order filed by the Department of Environmental Quality and the company last week in Mecklenburg County court.

Under the agreement, Colonial Pipeline must carry out specific remedies related to the August 2020 spill in the Oehler Nature Preserve near Huntersville, as well as pay nearly $5 million in penalties and investigative costs.

The company initially reported the size of the spill, which occurred about 14 miles (22 kilometers) north of Charlotte, at 273,000 gallons (1.03 million liters) but revised the estimate to 1.2 million gallons (4.5 million liters) in January 2021. About 1.4 million gallons (5.3 million liters) of product have been recovered at the site to date, the DEQ said in a news release.

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The order stems from a lawsuit last fall in which DEQ called on Colonial to take a number of steps, including the removal, treatment or control any source of petroleum, polyfluoroalkyl — known as PFAS — or other contaminants that have the potential to contaminate groundwater.

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, said last week that it will “take every appropriate step at the site to remediate it consistent with all regulatory requirements.”