Pipeline spills 300,000 gallons of diesel near New Orleans

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Fuel spills are an ecological tragedy.

Photo: File / MICHAEL OWEN BAKER / Getty Images

A severely corroded pipe broke and spilled more than 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel on the outskirts of New Orleans, in the state of Louisiana, after its operator delayed necessary repairs on the line, federal records show, cited by The Associated Press.

Most of the fuel from the spill was drained andn two man-made ponds called “loan wells” and thousands of fish, birds and other animals died, state and local officials said.

The fuel spill also polluted the ground, according to state and federal officials.

The pipeline owner said 315,000 gallons of fuel had been skimmed and recovered with some mixed water, mostly from ponds. Cleaning work is in progress.

The spill from the 16-inch-diameter (40-centimeter-diameter) line operated by Collins Pipeline Co. It was discovered Dec. 27 near a levee in St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans, according to documents from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The spill had not previously been publicly reported. The Associated Press first reported the spill.

The pipeline had apparently lost 75% of its metal where corrosion was worst, which would have required immediate repair, records show. But work was delayed and the line continued to operate after a second inspection concluded that the corrosion was not severe enough to require immediate repair under federal standards.

The spill killed about 2,300 fish and more than 100 animals, including 39 snakes, 32 birds, some eels and a blue crab, according to statistics provided by Robert “Trey” Iles, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Nearly 130 animals, including 72 alligators, 23 birds, 20 snakes and 12 turtles, were captured for rehabilitation, the spokesman said.

Diesel is a highly toxic petroleum product It can kill fish and plants that come in direct contact with it, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fuel from small spills can evaporate or naturally disperse in just a couple of days, but larger spills can take months to degrade.

Collins Pipeline is a subsidiary of PBF Energy Inc., based in Parsippany, NJ, which owns six oil refineries in the US, including the Chalmette Refinery in St. Bernard Parish.

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