WASHINGTON—The Explorer Pipeline Company has agreed to pay a $3.3
million civil penalty in order to resolve an alleged violation of the
Clean Water Act stemming from a July 14, 2007, spill of over 6,500
barrels (approximately 275,000 gallons) of jet fuel from its interstate
pipeline at a location near Huntsville, Texas, the Justice Department
and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.
The United States’ complaint, which was filed on Oct. 2, 2008 in the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleges that
Explorer discharged oil into navigable waters of the United States in
violation of the Clean Water Act. On July 14, 2007, Explorer’s 28-inch
interstate refined petroleum products pipeline ruptured near Huntsville
and jet fuel spilled onto the surrounding area and into nearby Turkey
Creek. Turkey Creek flows to the Trinity River at the upper reaches of
In earlier responses to the spill, Explorer replaced the section of
pipe that ruptured, completed cleanup of the impacted waters and
adjoining shorelines, is cooperating in a joint federal and state
natural resource damage assessment, and commenced additional assessment
and followup work under a Corrective Action Order issued by the U.S.
Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
"Oil spills into our nation’s waters endanger public health and the
environment and warrant concerted enforcement efforts," said Ronald J.
Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s
Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Today’s settlement
achieves an appropriate result and furthers our enforcement mission."
"This settlement is the result of coordination and cooperation between
a number of federal and state entities. EPA is committed to working
with its state and federal partners to ensure a strong water protection
program," said Richard E. Greene, EPA Regional Administrator.
The Clean Water Act makes it unlawful to discharge oil or hazardous
substances into or upon the navigable waters of the United States or
adjoining shorelines in quantities that may be harmful to the
environment or public health. The penalty paid for this spill will be
deposited in the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund managed by the
National Pollution Fund Center. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is
used to pay for federal response activities and to compensate for
damages when there is a discharge or substantial threat of discharge of
oil or hazardous substances to waters of the United States or adjoining
The proposed consent decree, lodged in the Southern District of Texas,
is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court review and
approval. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department
of Justice website at