Settlement reached over underground gasoline pipe leak in Anderson Co.

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BELTON, S.C. (WSPA)- A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit over a 2014 gasoline leak in Anderson County.

According to the Southern Environmental Law Center, at least 360,000 gallons of gas leaked from an underground pipe in Belton in 2014. Now the pipeline company, Kinder Morgan, has settled for $1.5 million.

The smell of gasoline on rural Lewis Drive Belton in 2014 was the tip of the iceberg: an underground leak from a gasoline pipe.

“What was discovered ultimately was one of the largest gasoline pipeline spills in American history had occurred in Belton…at least 369,000 gallons,” said Frank Holleman, who is a senior attorney at the Southern Enviornmental Law Center. “We think as many as a half million gallons. That puts it in the top one percent of all pipeline spills in the last 50 years.”

Holleman said the gas isn’t known to have flowed into drinking water, or affect people who live nearby.

“I want to make sure nothing happens to my family here…but I do worry about it because who knows if it’s ever going to happen again, if they’re going to do what they need to do,” said Stephanie Hunter, who lives in the area.

The gasoline did get into a creek that eventually finds its way to Broadway Lake and the Savannah River. Broadway Lake is a spot for fishing, swimming and boating.

“It is a concern to have these chemicals in our waterways, and one reason that’s not allowed is because they do have cancer causing qualities and because they do adversely impact the watershed itself,” Holleman said.

He said he can’t say anyone is at a higher risk of cancer because of the spill.

“But the concern is the impact over time, over months, weeks and years of a continuing flow from the stream that may get in the sediments,” Holleman said.

Including legal fees, Kinder Morgan has spent about $17 million to clean up the site.

But Holleman said an unknown amount of gasoline still remains underground and could still be moving toward the creek.

“What needs to be done is to define the outer limit of that plume and determine that it is no longer moving,” he said. “And if it is moving, where and how to stop it.”

A spokesperson from Kinder Morgan says they do know where the remaining gasoline is and they are working with DHEC to totally remediate and restore the site.

Shelly Robbins with Upstate Forever said when the non-profit felt like the company wasn’t doing enough to clean up the spill a few years back, they worked with other entities to file the lawsuit.

“The lawsuit went as far as it could go, and now we have this settlement,” said Robbins, who is the energy and state policy director for Upstate Forever.

Kinder Morgan released a statement to 7News, saying, “In the aftermath of the release, we took full responsibility and committed to a complete and thorough remediation of the site.”

That $1.5 million settlement will be administered by Upstate Forever and the Savannah Riverkeeper. The money won’t go toward helping the clean up of this spill. Rather, it will go toward projects to protect and restore water quality in Anderson County in general.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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