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‘Notice of continuing violation’ issued against Colonial Pipeline over massive 2020 gas leak in Huntersville



HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. Local Charlotte News – The North Carolina Dept. of Environmental Quality has issued a notice of continuing violation against Colonial Pipeline over a massive gas leak that was discovered in Huntersville in August of 2020.

In a letter from NCDEQ to Colonial, authorities said the company still must answer questions they have about the leak, with a focus on any new estimations on how much leaked out and the ultimate depth of gas discovered.

The letter, dated October 19, stated that Colonial needed to answer these questions “immediately.” The letter is the fifth of its kind Colonial has received from the state in regards to the leak along Huntersville-Concord Road.

“What DEQ is asking for can be produced in a few pages,” said Huntersville Town Commissioner Stacy Phillips, who has been critical of Colonial Pipeline’s response to the leak.

The language of the Notice of Continuing Violation is among the most forceful from NCDEQ to date, which had previously given extensions and timelines for Colonial to provide the information.

“This is more of a ‘We’re not asking you to do this, we’re telling you to do this,'” said Phillips.

Colonial’s own testing near the site of the gas leak still shows high levels of chemicals found in gas, particularly benzene. One monitoring well showed a level of benzene more than 5,000 times what is considered safe.

The notice, in addition to addressing the depth and volume of the gas, also requires Colonial to “restore groundwater quality” to acceptable levels.

Colonial, in previous statements, has said the gas was leaking for days or weeks from a ‘through-wall crack’ in their main pipeline, which runs from Texas to New Jersey. The portion damaged was along Huntersville-Concord Road near Asbury Chapel Road.

Colonial has also previously stated that getting a firm estimate or ultimate number on the amount could require the clean-up to be stopped so measuring could take place.

In a statement Wednesday, Colonial Pipeline said:

“Colonial Pipeline Company is reviewing NCDEQ’s correspondence and will continue to work with the department on addressing the matters identified. As we have reported to the department, Colonial has recovered approximately 30,695 barrels of product, indicating our extensive recovery and monitoring network of 301 wells is working as designed. Regular, ongoing drinking water well sampling continues to show no impacts and our priority remains focused on quickly and safely recovering product, protecting human health and safety, and restoring the surrounding environment.”

NCDEQ told FOX 46, in regards to the letter sent to Colonial, that they had not penalized Colonial and noted that they had not yet received a response to the Notice of Continuing Violation they issued to the company.

In an update posted Wednesday on the NCDEQ website, the monthly monitoring report said 1,289,199 gallons had been recovered as of September 23.

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