A fuel spill killed thousands of animals near New Orleans after repairs for a corroding pipeline were delayed

A fuel spill killed thousands of animals near New Orleans after repairs for a corroding pipeline were delayed.  Thousands of animals are dead after more than 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into a coastal wetland area near New Orleans, Louisiana.

The fuel spilled from a 42-year-old pipeline operated by Collins Pipeline Co. near St. Bernard parish. It was discovered on December 27, according to documents from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration viewed by the Associated Press. Clean-up has been underway after the fuel spilled into ponds, injuring wildlife and contaminating soil, officials said.

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According to the AP, an inspection of the pipeline in October 2020 found excessive corrosion in the same place that the spill occurred. Federal records showed repairs were delayed after another assessment determined the damage was not extensive enough to require immediate repair under federal law, the outlet reported.

Officials from Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said on Wednesday more than 2,240 fish were found dead at the spill site, Nola.com reported. Another 104 animals — including 32 birds, 39 snakes, and 16 turtles — were also found dead.

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Wildlife officials have also captured at least 72 alligators impacted by the spill and are treating them at a temporary rehabilitation site, the outlet reported, with 12 released this week. Another 20 snakes and 12 turtles were also captured for rehabilitation.

PBF Vice President Michael Karlovich told the AP that the company spent $500,000 to repair the line and that operations have resumed. He said an environmental assessment is in the works.

“Although we continue to remediate and monitor the area, on-water recovery operations have been completed,” Karlovich said.

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The cause of the spill has not yet been confirmed, but an official from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said “localized corrosion and metal loss” were the probably to blame, according to the AP.

According to federal records, PBF told federal pipeline regulators two months before the spill they had repaired another part of the line but were waiting on approval to repair the corrosion near the spill location, the AP reported.


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