2020 Colonial Pipeline spill revealed to be largest gasoline spill in U.S. historyJuly 25, 2022
New estimates of the damage caused by a crack 5 feet long in a section of Colonial Pipeline Co.’s 5,500-mile pipeline shows its 2020 spill was the worst in U.S. history, sending nearly 2 million gallons of gas into the Oehlet Nature Preserve near Hunterville, North Carolina. It took 18 days before teenagers discovered the rupture on Aug. 14, 2020, and to this day, Colonial Pipeline still hasn’t completely cleaned up its mess. The company originally thought just 63,000 gallons of gasoline spilled before revising that number up to 1.2 million gallons. It’s expected to take years until the final quarter of that spill is finally cleaned up.
Colonial Pipeline was recently fined $5 million by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for the gasoline spill—a pittance compared with the company’s $1.3 billion in revenue generated the year the spill occurred. It’s also not the first such spill the company’s experienced. The Colonial Pipeline itself is the largest refined oil pipeline in the country, so naturally it’s experienced a lot of environmental disasters. Colonial Pipeline even has an Environmental Protection Agency page devoted to its spills, including a 1996 incident that sent 1 million gallons of diesel fuel into South Carolina’s Reedy River. On behalf of the EPA, the Justice Department sued Colonial Pipeline in 2000 over its history of spills and poor maintenance on its pipeline.