A massive cleanup effort is ongoing after a corroded pipeline ruptured near New Orleans last month, spilling more than 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel and killing thousands of fish, birds and other animals.
The Dec. 27 spill had not been publicly reported, according to documents from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Operator of the pipeline has been charged with delaying necessary repairs to the 22-foot pipe section at the scene of the accident.
About 315,000 gallons of diesel-contaminated water has since been recovered from two artificial ponds near a levee in St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans. Some 2,300 fish and more than 100 other animals, including snakes, birds, eels and crabs, have been killed, said Robert “Trey” Iles, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Nearly 130 other animals, including 72 alligators, 23 birds, 20 snakes and 12 turtles, were captured for rehabilitation, he added.
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According to federal records, an October 2020 inspection revealed that the pipe was compromised and had lost 75%. This is where most of the corrosion occurred, requiring immediate repair. But repairs were delayed after a second inspection found the corrosion didn’t require immediate attention.
Bill Caram of the Pipeline Safety Trust is a pipeline safety advocate.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, diesel is highly toxic and can cause death in fish and plants if it comes into contact.
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The pipeline is operated by Collins Pipeline, which owns six petroleum refineries nationwide, including one in St. Bernard Parish. The company spent $500,000 to repair the line and resumed its use Jan. 8, said Michael Karlovich, vice president of PBF Energy Inc., which owns Collins Pipeline.
He said that the company was monitoring all recovery efforts and that an assessment of environmental damage is ongoing.
Following an oil leakage in California last October that left 25,000 gallons crude oil in the Pacific Ocean, this Louisiana oil spillage follows another oil spillage. Amplify Energy Corp., a Houston-based oil firm was charged with a misdemeanor. The prosecutors claimed that Amplify Energy Corp. acted negligently by allowing oil to leak for hours in spite of alarms warning workers.
Contributing to The Associated Press