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Posted on: November 2, 2021

DEQ Files Action Against Colonial Pipeline

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) today filed a Complaint and Motion for Injunctive Relief in Mecklenburg County Superior Court to force Colonial Pipeline to meet their obligations as the responsible party in the state’s largest gasoline spill. As outlined in the complaint, Colonial has failed to provide DEQ with essential information required for the appropriate remediation at the site. 

 “Colonial owes it to the people of North Carolina to cooperate with DEQ and be forthcoming with the information required by our statutes, starting with an accurate estimate of how much fuel was released into the environment,” said Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser. “DEQ is committed to holding Colonial accountable and we now seek a court order directing Colonial to comply with their obligations to cleanup and restore the communities impacted by the release.”

 The release was discovered in August of 2020 in the Oehler Nature Preserve in Huntersville. To date, Colonial has recovered more than 1.23 million gallons of petroleum product from the site, but has failed to provide DEQ with an updated volume estimate of the release. Despite requirements to do so, Colonial has not satisfactorily defined the vertical extent (depth) of petroleum contamination in soil and groundwater at the site and has not fully investigated the extent of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination at the site related to the response activities. 

The complaint seeks a judicial action requiring Colonial Pipeline to take the following actions:

  • Remove, treat or control any source of petroleum, PFAS or other contaminants that have the potential to contaminate groundwater; 
  • Provide DEQ with a current, revised estimate of the volume of petroleum released;
  • Submit a comprehensive conceptual site model for both the petroleum release and the PFAS contamination;
  • Complete site assessment activities, and submit and receive DEQ approval for a corrective action plan and proposed schedule for implementation;
  • Conduct monthly sampling of nearby surface water for petroleum, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, Volatile Organic Compounds, total lead and PFAS at locations determined by DEQ; and
  • Provide evaluations of Colonial’s leak detection system statewide, provide locations of all pipeline Type-A collar repairs within North Carolina and remove or replace them with approved alternatives if necessary. Colonial has cited corrosion related to a Type-A sleeve repair as the cause of the Huntersville release.

 This Complaint/Motion for Injunctive Relief does not preclude DEQ from imposing civil penalties for any violations related to the release or from taking any future enforcement action against Colonial Pipeline if new information indicates additional enforcement measures are warranted.  The Complaint is available on the DEQ website at:  


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