A pinhole-sized leak in a pipe led to an estimated 8,000-gallon gasoline spill from a major distribution pipeline in Belton, SC, last week and work to clean it up will likely continue through this month.
Owned by the Plantation Pipe Line Company, the 26-inch diameter pipe runs 3,100 miles from Louisiana to Washington, D.C., and the leak occurred about a mile outside of Belton, company officials said. Kinder Morgan, the country’s largest energy infrastructure company, operates the pipeline.
Workers turned the pipe off last Monday night, and crews drilled another tap to drain gasoline, said Jason A. Booth, a scene coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency.
“These pipes are old and they’re bound to get leaks and cracks,” he said. “They can be minor and hard for the transfer station to detect a drop in pressure.”
Contractors likely will spend the next two to three weeks removing soil saturated with gasoline from the area.
An unnamed tributary of Browns Creek is about 1,000 feet from the leak, Booth said, and monitoring has shown gasoline has not reached the water. Officials will continue to observe the stream.
All residents in the area are on municipal water, and those lines are unaffected, he said.
The cause of the leak remains undetermined, said Melissa Ruiz, spokeswoman for Plantation Pipe Line Company. Workers did not detect a drop in line pressure, she said. Investigators have not determined when the leak began.
“All appropriate agencies have been notified and the company anticipates that there will be no customer impacts,” she said. An investigation into the cause and quantity of the release is under way.
Plantation Pipe Line is creating an environmental sampling plan in cooperation with the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the EPA, said DHEC spokeswoman Cassandra S. Harris.
Booth said the company soon will begin drilling holes in the ground at 50-foot increments to determine how far the gasoline had spread.
In South Carolina, the line enters in the Lake Hartwell area and continues through Belton and Spartanburg before heading toward Charlotte.
The same line broke in May at the company’s Anderson station during routine maintenance.