Posted: 16 Sep, 2016

The leak was first reported Friday, Sept. 9 by workers at a mining operation who detected a strong odor of gasoline near Helena spilled approximately 6,000 barrels. The pipeline owner, Colonial Pipeline, which operates 5,500 miles of pipeline from Houston to the New York harbor, announced the volume estimate Wednesday on its spill response web site."There has been no threat to public health or safety, and the safety of the responders remains the top concern," reads the latest update. "Measures to protect the environment have been in place since the early hours of the response."

Approximately 500 employees and contractors are involved in the response. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state and local authorities have established a joint incident command at the scene. Air monitors have been placed and water samples are being collected to confirm the gasoline is not reaching the nearby Cahaba River. Most of the spilled gasoline is contained in a mining retention pond, and workers are using skimmers to remove the gasoline. Underflow dams have also been constructed and boom installed to prevent the gas from reaching a dry creek bed that runs from the pond to Peel Creek.

Colonial Pipeline called in the conservation group Cahaba Riverkeeper and Tri-State Bird and Rescue to minimize environmental impact. Cahaba Riverkeeper David Butler called the company's "aggressive" response "refreshing" compared to how some companies deal with environmental spills.

"Every concern we've had, they've addressed with really no pushback," Butler said. "As bad as any situation like this is, all you can really ask is that they be responsible and accountable and I certainly haven't found any fault in their response so far. I think they're genuinely concerned about protecting the river."

SOURCE: Dennis Pillion |