Marathon Petroleum Corp. has agreed to pay $335,000 for a 2016 spill in which nearly 48,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked into the Wabash River near the Indiana-Illinois border.
The company's settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls for $109,000 to go to Illinois, which pursued civil penalties based on violations of state-level environmental regulations, the Indianapolis Star reported. The spill occurred due to natural forces, said Shane Pochard, a Marathon spokesman.
Indiana didn't seek penalties or damages because there was "no visible impact to wildlife or habitat" on that state's side of the river, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
At about 11 a.m. Sunday, April 17, 2016, the Mt. Carmel Fire Department notified the Marathon Pipe Line LLC Operations Center in Findlay, Ohio, of a sheen on the Wabash. It has since been determined that the sheen represented 1,150 barrels (48,300 gallons) of diesel fuel.
By Tuesday evening, MPL confirmed the release originated from its Two Rivers 10-inch products pipeline. The leading edge of the sheen had dissipated before reaching the Mississippi River.
The Unified Command responding to the release is made up of Marathon Pipe Line LLC, U.S. EPA, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Other agencies are also assisting, including the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and Illinois EPA.
"Marathon Pipe Line is committed to ensuring the safety and security of our response personnel and the surrounding community," the company said in a statement. "As part of this commitment, we are committed to keeping the public and other stakeholders informed about the response activities."
The Wabash was at about flood stage and the large volume of water helped dilute the fuel, which was expected to be undetectable by the time it reaches the Mississippi River, EPA on-scene coordinator Kevin Turner said.
Marathon Pipe Line confirmed the release was from its Two Rivers pipeline system, which crosses under the Wabash River at Mount Carmel. The pipeline delivers fuel from the Robinson refinery to a terminal in Mount Vernon, Ind., on the Ohio River.
The speed of the water channeled the contamination downriver and prevented it from settling in backwaters where it might have harmed wildlife, but that also made it impossible to contain or collect the fuel, Turner said.
"The stuff is flying. It is absolutely flying," he said.
Crews tried twice to put a boom in the water, but it got washed out. And the force of the water even bent a 50-pound anchor meant to hold the boom in place, Turner said.
Marathon operates about 6,400 miles (10,300 kilometers) of pipeline that transport crude oil and petroleum products across the U.S. The company has had 61 pipeline incidents in the past 12 years, with about 840,000 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled.
About 75 percent of that material was recovered. A dozen of the spills occurred in Indiana.