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U.S. EPA charges Kinder Morgan with Clean Water Act violations

Release Date: 12/8/2004
Contact Information: Laura Gentile ( gentile.laura@epa.gov ) - 415/947-4227 (desk) or 415/760-9161 (cell)

Sparks, Nev. facility did not follow spill prevention laws

SAN FRANCISCO -- Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency charged Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, LP for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act at its oil storage and terminal facility in Sparks, Nev.

The EPA is seeking up to $157,500 in penalties from the company, which is the largest transporter of gasoline and petroleum products in the nation. The company's west coast headquarters office is located in Orange, Calif.

The facility did not conduct at least ten emergency notification drills, which are required quarterly, over the past five years. Kinder Morgan also failed to conduct two oil spill response drills that require the use of emergency equipment. These drills must be conducted annually.

The EPA cited the company for failing to conduct emergency response drills at its facility at 301 Nugget Ave. The facility, which is located about one mile from the Truckee River, has the capacity to store more than one million gallons of oil.

"Kinder Morgan is jeopardizing the environment by violating the Clean Water Act," said Keith Takata, director of the EPA’s superfund program for the Pacific Southwest region. "Exercising emergency response measures is a crucial component of oil spill response planning."

The EPA emphasizes the importance of spill response training, noting that over the past two years several oil spills have occurred at Kinder Morgan’s facilities in Arizona and California. Last month, a pipeline near Baker, Calif. was shutdown after the discovery of a gasoline leak. Last April, more than 100,000 gallons of oil spilled into a marsh near Suisun, Calif. from a ruptured pipeline. In 2003, roughly 32,000 gallons of oil was released near Tucson, Ariz. from a corroded pipeline.

The EPA discovered the alleged violations following an unannounced inspection of the facility’s response capability conducted last July. The inspection required the facility to respond to a simulation of an oil spill into the Truckee River.

Kinder Morgan and its subsidiaries operate more than 25,000 miles of oil pipelines nationwide. The company transports more than two million barrels per day of gasoline and petroleum products per day.

The EPA's spill prevention regulations require non-transportation related facilities that store large amounts of oil to maintain a plan for responding to a worst-case scenario spill. Facilities must train all personnel to properly respond to an oil spill by conducting drills and training sessions. Facilities must also have a plan that outlines steps to contain, clean up, and mitigate any effects that an oil spill may have on waterways.

The company is required to respond to the charges in the complaint by early January.