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Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. Clean Water Act Settlement - 2017

EPA, and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. (Sunoco) has agreed to pay a civil penalty for alleged violation of the Clean Water Act stemming from a 2012 gasoline discharge near Wellington, Ohio.   

Overview of Company

Sunoco Pipeline L.P. was founded in 2002 and operates as a subsidiary of Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., to transport crude oil, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and refined products through more than 8,000 miles of liquid pipelines. Sunoco Logistics’ crude oil business unit provides transportation, terminalling, and storage of crude oil throughout the southwest and midwest United States through approximately 5,900 miles of crude oil trunk and gathering pipelines and they also have equity ownership interests in three crude oil pipelines.  The company also conducts crude oil acquisition and marketing activities, primarily in the mid-continental United States.

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Sunoco discharged approximately 1,950 barrels of gasoline from a pipeline near Wellington, Ohio in January 2012, in violation of Section 311(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA). 

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Pollutant Impacts

Due to the fact that the changes Sunoco implemented as a result of this discharge are preventative in nature, it is not possible to estimate a specific total pollutant reduction associated with this Consent Decree. 

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Health and Environment Effects

Oil spills are known to cause both immediate and long-term harm to human health and ecosystems. Oil limits oxygen in water and can suffocate wildlife.

Oil emulsions may stick to the gills of fish or coat and destroy algae or other plankton. Floating oil may reduce water exposure to the circulation of oxygen and, in conjunction with emulsified oil, interfere with photosynthesis. Oil slicks can kill birds, contaminate food sources, reduce animal and plant reproduction and contaminate nesting habitats. Oil spills can cause long-term effects years later even if the oil remains in the environment for a relatively short period of time. Petroleum oils can also undergo oxidation and polymerization reactions and can form tars that persist in the environment for years.

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Civil Penalty

Sunoco will pay a $990,000 federal civil penalty which will be paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.  

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the Northern District of Ohio is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Kelly Brantner
Water Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC 2243A)
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-9933

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