Belton oil spill pollution ‘getting worse,’ conservation groups say

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BELTON, S.C. (WSPA) – A rupture in the Plantation Pipeline spilled more than 370,000 gallons of gasoline and petroleum products near Lewis Drive in Belton back in December 2014. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has been overseeing Kinder Morgan’s cleanup efforts, and requested a specific part of Belton Creek get tested this summer.

“From August to September of this year, Kinder Morgan’s own tests show the pollution has been growing by as much as 35 percent,” said Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Frank Holleman.

Kinder Morgan statement to 7 News:

“These sampling results that occur month over month are not directly comparable … they include different times and different locations. The recent report includes sampling that was taken closer to the source area, which we had not sampled previously because we already knew the product was there.  It’s common after a spill occurs to determine the extent of its impact, and we knew without the need to sample that the area of the creek where the spill occurred would have contamination.  We went ahead and sampled that area recently at the request of the State (the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control), the organization overseeing and directing our remediation efforts.” -Melissa Ruiz, Kinder Morgan Corporate Communications Manager.

“The pollution in some instance is one thousand times the standard,” said Holleman. “What they are currently doing is obviously not enough to stop the pollution or to stop the pollution from growing.”

Kinder Morgan officials said the results showed the pollution is “stable and not migrating.”

They’ve recovered over 209,000 gallons of product as of September, meaning about 150,000 gallons have still not been recovered. Kinder Morgan’s statement went on to say remediation could span a number of years, given the size and scope of the Belton oil spill.

Holleman says with the environmental effects, that’s not fast enough.

“These test results show that we need to be concerned now – two years after the spill – about the impact of this gasoline spill on Anderson County’s waters,” he said.

“We need quick, strong action to address this unlawful pollution of Anderson County’s clean water,” said Andrea Cooper, executive director of Upstate Forever.  “Kinder Morgan’s water pollution cannot continue and continue to get worse.”

If these conservation groups aren’t satisfied with Kinder Morgan’s clean-up efforts, the SELC will file a lawsuit asking federal courts to step in.

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