165,000 Gallons of Oil Leaked from IL Pipeline


A broken pipeline in Edwardsville, Illinois, has leaked an estimated 165,000 gallons of crude oil in March, with some oil flowing into a nearby creek. The cause of the spill is reportedly under investigation, and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul recently announced a lawsuit against pipeline operator, Marathon Pipe Line LLC.

What Happened

On the morning of March 11, MPL reported it was responding to a release of crude oil in Edwardsville from its pipeline. Upon detecting the release, the pipeline was shut down and the company deployed response resources.

Boom was deployed at several locations along the Cahokia diversion channel to contain oil, as well as air monitoring. No injuries had been reported and the company did not detect a hazardous level of emissions.

MPL also stated that no water intakes or private wells were in the immediate vicinity of the release. However, there were reports of odors near the affected areas, which continued to be monitored.

“We are working with local, state and federal agencies as we respond,” wrote the company in a statement. “MPL’s top priorities are to ensure the safety of responders, the community and to limit environmental impact as we respond to the release and conduct cleanup activities. An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the release.”

A Unified Command, consisting of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Edwardsville Fire Department and MPL, was established to respond to the crude oil release.

An initial estimate by MPL suggested that 3,000 barrels had been spilled, with approximately 2,200 barrels of oil recovered that Saturday.

“From our indication, no oil has made it to the Mississippi,” said Jacob Hassan, an on-scene coordinator for EPA Region 5, at the time.

Crews reported on Sunday, March 13, that the source of the spill was stopped and repair on the line was underway. Boats were deployed on March 14 to assist in the retrieval of oil from the water.

On March 15, MPL reported that repairs to the pipeline were completed and federal regulatory authorities authorized the restart of the pipeline. As of the same day, MPL announced it was using the following equipment for response and remediation efforts:

  • 21 skimmers: equipment that remove oil from water;
  • 44 vacuum trucks: equipment that removes oil and water;
  • 3 tanker trucks, 32 tanks and 36 waste containers: to collect oily water and soil for processing and disposal;
  • 6 excavation equipment: to expose the pipeline and remove contaminated soil; and
  • More than 4,550 feet of boom: to contain the oil on the water.

As of March 24, approximately 8,060 cubic yards of oily soil has reportedly been removed for proper disposal. In total, officials say that more than 163,000 gallons of oil, the equivalent of 3,900 barrels, was leaked in the spill.

Additionally, the company reported that 40 impacted wildlife are continuing to recover and be treated. 24 wildlife were confirmed to have been killed due to the oil impact.

Currently, a cause of the spill is still under investigation, with cleanup ongoing.

Recent Lawsuit

The lawsuit, filed in the Madison County Circuit Court and announced March 18, alleges MPL created a substantial danger to the environment and public health and welfare, water pollution, creating offensive conditions, open dumping and waste disposal at an improper facility.

“Marathon’s significant oil spill has created a public health risk by exposing the community to heavy crude oil,” Raoul said. "The spill has also severely harmed the environment – including wildlife, surrounding wetlands and waterways.

“The long-lasting impact of this oil spill could be detrimental if not properly and quickly remediated,” he said. “I am committed to ensuring that Marathon is held accountable for the damage it has already done and preventing it from causing further harm to the public’s health and the environment.”  

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges MPL violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act. According to the release, the lawsuit is based on a referral from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

“This release from a Marathon pipeline resulted in significant environmental impacts to Cahokia Creek, surrounding wetlands, and wildlife. As a result, it has required a response from Illinois EPA and other state, local, and federal agencies to monitor and ensure proper steps are taken to identify the extent of contamination in the environmental and begin remediation,” IEPA Director John J. Kim said.

“We will continue working the Attorney General’s Office to ensure Marathon fulfills its obligation to address and remediate all environmental impacts resulting from this release.”

According to the lawsuit, Raoul alleges that 163,800 gallons of heavy crude oil were released to soil, wetlands and Cahokia Creek, killing at least 10 animals and impacting at least 1.6 acres of wetland and 7 miles of the creek.

The lawsuit seeks to require that MPL immediately cease and desist from causing or allowing the release of heavy crude oil from the pipeline, as well as order the company to undertake corrective action. Civil penalties of $50,000 for each violation of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and Illinois Pollution Board Regulations are being sought, in addition to penalties of $10,000 for each day of violation.

Recovery of costs the IEPA incurred in responding to the release have also been requested. Assistant Attorneys General Emma Hudspath and Chelsea K. Neilson are reportedly handling the case for Raoul’s Environmental Bureau.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Cleanup; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Lawsuits; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; Pipelines; Program/Project Management; Safety

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.