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HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — On Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality filed a proposed Consent Order to hold Colonial Pipeline accountable as the responsible party in the state’s largest gasoline spill.

The Consent Order, if approved by the Mecklenburg County Superior Court, would require Colonial to take specific corrective actions and pay nearly $5 million related to the August 2020 fuel release in the Oehler Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina.

“The Consent Order requires Colonial to meet its obligations to the communities impacted by the release, starting with an accurate accounting of the spill volume,” Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser said in a written statement, released on Thursday. “This release is on track to be the largest onshore spill in our nation’s history and the order holds Colonial accountable for the necessary cleanup to restore the environment.”

In November 2021, NC DEQ filed a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief regarding Colonial Pipeline’s obligations to address the historic release.

Colonial agreed to the terms in the proposed Consent Order filed on Thursday, NCDEQ said. The company is required to provide an updated estimate of the volume of gasoline released.

To date, Colonial has recovered more than 1.4 million gallons of product from the site.

In April 2021, DEQ required additional actions when the data showed the previous estimate of 1.2 million gallons was not accurate.

The terms of the proposed Consent Order include a civil penalty of $4.5 million, plus $250,000 in investigative costs and additional stipulated penalties for failure to perform activities or meet the required schedule, NCDEQ said. By statute, collected civil penalties are sent to the state’s education fund, they said.

Additional terms of the proposed Consent Order include:

  • Providing a revised Comprehensive Site Assessment addendum with a revised conceptual site model for both the petroleum release and soil contamination
  • Conducting quarterly sampling for PFAS in specific monitoring wells
  • Developing a plan to assess the free product (gasoline) in bedrock, including the construction of 5 to 15 additional bedrock wells
  • Conducting monthly surface water quality sampling and reporting
  • Submitting a Corrective Action Plan and proposed schedule
  • Continuing monitoring, remedial action, and reporting

NCDEQ said all parties have submitted the proposed Consent Order to the court. If the court determines a hearing is necessary, it will be scheduled for July 26, 2022, in Mecklenburg County Superior Court.