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Federal agency responds to Huntersville gasoline spill

March 31. The federal agency that regulates the Colonial Pipeline has issued a “Notice of Proposed Safety Order” that requires a series of improvements to avoid future pipeline spills in Huntersville.

Colonial Pipeline repeatedly revised the size of the gasoline spill, doubling it to roughly 1.2 million gallons. The spill in Huntersville this past August was originally estimated at 272,000 gallons, then 354,000 gallons in November and, as recently as Jan. 6., at nearly 500,000 gallons.

Colonial now says 28,571 barrels have leaked. With each barrel containing 42 gallons, the math says 1.2 million gallons leaked into the ground just off Huntersville-Concord Road.

“After evaluating the foregoing preliminary findings of fact and considering the age of the pipe involved, the manufacturer, the hazardous nature of the product transported and the pressure required for transporting such product, the characteristics of the geographical areas where the pipeline facility is located, and the failure history of the pipeline system, including causes of those failures, it appears that the continued operation of the Colonial Pipeline System without corrective measures would pose a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, or the environment,” the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said.

The PHMSAS said conditions in Huntersville suggest concerns throughout the Colonial Pipeline System.

The pipeline, which stretches from New Jersey to Texas, is more than 40 years old.

‘Inability’ to detect and respond

“Colonial’s inability to effectively detect and respond to such releases has potentially exacerbated the impacts of numerous releases over the operational history of Colonial’s entire pipeline system,” the PHMSA statement said.

PFAS a major issue

Potentially harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of man-made chemicals, have also been found at the site of the Huntersville spill.

PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFOA and PFOS don’t break down and can accumulate in the human body over time.

NC Sen. Natasha Marcus said the most recent reports indicate that as of March 25, 2021, Colonial has removed 867,026 gallons of free product and 896,243 gallons of Petroleum Contact Water from the site.

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