Massive Gas Pipeline Spill In U.S. Discovered By Teens Riding ATVs

A new report has drastically updated initial estimates about how much fuel spilled from a gas pipeline leak in 2020. The leaking pipeline was discovered by a group of teenagers who were riding ATVs in the area.

Colonial Pipeline initially estimated that about 63,000 gallons of gasoline were released in the Oehler Nature Preserve, which is just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.

In an updated filing, Colonial Pipeline said that two million gallons of gasoline spilled from the leaking pipe, more than 30 times the original estimate. That is enough gas to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The company also determined that the pipeline had been leaking for 18 days before it was discovered.

While the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said it was “the largest onshore fuel spill in the nation,” E&E News reported that a gas spill in 1986 in Indiana released 2.3 million gallons of fuel. The largest pipeline spill in U.S. history occurred in 2018 when over two million gallons of liquefied petroleum gas were released after a pipeline was accidentally struck by heavy machinery.

The company said it recovered about 75% of the spilled fuel and noted the testing determined the spill had “no impacts to water supply wells.”

“Plenty of people, myself included, are deeply disappointed in the 18-day delay, which we now know allowed at least two million gallons of gasoline to seep into the ground,” state Senator Natasha Marcus said in a statement to E&E News. “It’s been two years since the leak, and it’s frustrating to hear that 25 percent of the spilled gasoline is still on site.”

Colonial Pipeline will have to pay $5 million in damages because of the spill as part of a recently approved Consent Order.

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