TANK FARM: Line serving this facility ruptured. Magnolia Reporter

An oil spill many probably never heard about — far bigger than the Mayflower pipeline rupture — has now led to a federal lawsuit against the owner of the operation in Magnolia where the spill occurred.

The March 9, 2013 leak from a pump station and tank farm (formerly Lion Oil) spilled some 5,890  barrels that ran into Little Cornie Creek.  By comparison, the March 29, 2013 Mayflower oil spill from an Exxon Mobil pipeline break gushed about 3,190 barrels on a residential subdivision and nearby wetlands.

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July 13, the EPA and the state sued Delek Logistics and Salah Gathering Systems in federal court in El Dorado over damage to waterways and wildlife habitat and cleanup costs. It seeks civil penalties for water pollution violations and improper handling of hazardous waste.

The spill was caused by the rupture of a corroded, 60-year-old underground strainer. A containment pond was insufficient for the rupture and oil flowed for 13 hours. It flowed through an unnamed creek into Little Cornie, which eventually leads to the Ouachita River. The lawsuit said the owners knew components were in disrepair but didn’t have a plan to cope with a major failure.

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In the cleanup, the suit says, the owners disposed of contaminated soil in a landfill not certified to handle it.

The suit says penalties could run up to $4,300 per barrel if the discharge was found to be the result of gross negligence. It says the companies could be assessed a fine of $37,500 per day from Jan. 12, 2009 for failure to plan for major accidents. The suit seeks an injunction against discharge of pollutants into water. It also seeks fines of up to $25,000 a day for improper disposal of hazardous waste and $10,000 a day for violation of the state clean water law.

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The suit seeks an order that the companies clean up the pollution and pay for cost of cleanup.

Here’s the lawsuit.

In this day and time of an emphasis on decreased regulation, it’s noteworthy when government actually moves against a polluter. A suit five years after the spill may indicate that regulators tired of an inability to work out a settlement.

As Mike McNeill of the Magnolia Reporter noted in this coverage, this spill wasn’t the only one reported from these operators. A lawsuit over the spill by private landowners was settled in 2016.

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