Only months after a their biggest spill in history and an explosion that killed one of their employees, Alpharetta company Colonial Pipeline has announced that they are looking to expand. Although many critics are voicing their complaints about property rights, fearing that Colonial Pipeline could work with unprincipled Ga. legislators to seize private property, the environmental impact would be an event greater issue.
From 1996 to 1999, Colonial Pipeline had seven spills that caused significant damage to the waterways in the Southeast. The EPA filed a complaint citing that Colonial Pipeline’s spills were due to gross negligence that violated the Clean Water Act. Colonial Pipeline settled and paid $34 million, the largest fine in EPA history.
On September 9, 2016, a Colonial Pipeline leak in Shelby County, Ala. spilled an estimated 252,000 gallons of gasoline, destroying the nearby environment and harming wildlife. This was the biggest spill in almost twenty years.
Company Bill Berry had this to say about the massive spill:
“It’s not safe for our workers to recover much product off of the pond due to gasoline vapors. It’s a challenge for us to do much because the vapors are not at safe levels for human health. So that presents a challenge to say how much has been released.”
On October 31, a Colonial Pipeline mainline exploded and burned in Shelby County. One worker died and several were injured in the explosion — only a few miles from the September spill.
Now, barely a month after an explosion that cost one worker his life, Colonial Pipeline is talking about expansion. Business development manager Don Gardner states, “We’re constantly looking at ways to expand.” How could a company be constantly thinking of expansion when its negligence caused a major spill and an employee’s death only months ago?
In a lot of ways, Georgia is on the forefront of using alternative fuels. In the past few years Georgia has developed laws and incentives that encourage drivers to use alternative fuels and has become one of the nation’s top solar employers. The fact that we’re still having close to 600 chemical spills per year is terribly regressive.
We have the infrastructure in place to demand more environmental protection legislation and we need to hold companies accountable for poisoning our communities, waterways and wildlife. If Colonial Pipeline chooses (and is allowed) to expand before taking the time to check their current systems we will continue to see gasoline spills, ruined ecosystems and explosions.