Colonial Pipeline Update
Over the past few months – working in consultation with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and local Mecklenburg County officials – Colonial Pipeline Company has made significant progress recovering product at the site of an August 2020 release from the pipeline outside of Huntersville, North Carolina.
In addition to our ongoing recovery and remediation activities, in January 2021, in consultation with NCDEQ, Colonial began mapping the subsurface geology to aid in establishing the bounds of the product migration area. This geological analysis, called Optical Image Profiling (OIP), is a 3D model of the subsurface (similar to an X-ray or MRI) that uses ultraviolet light and subsurface probes to detect hydrocarbons in soil. Colonial proactively initiated this OIP process to further enhance our understanding of the subsurface geological conditions and will utilize this information to maximize our recovery efforts.
Colonial received the results of this work this week, and a preliminary analysis of the data indicates that, while the product appears to remain contained to the general vicinity of the release location and previously delineated product area, there are zones where product is located deeper in the soil than originally modeled. We anticipate that this product can be recovered using the existing remediation technology currently being utilized at the site, and we will make adjustments to our plan if needed.
Colonial’s environmental team has already begun working with external, third-party geological experts to analyze the OIP data and will reevaluate the estimated release volume. As a result of receiving this data, Colonial has also notified NCDEQ that additional time is needed to finalize the revised Comprehensive Site Assessment report, ensuring this important document contains the most up-to-date and complete site data.
Each volume estimate that Colonial has provided since discovering the release has been based on the best available data at that time. That said, while the estimated release volume may be revised as a result of this new data, we will continue to follow the science and communicate what we find with the public and our regulators. Colonial remains committed to taking full accountability for remediation of this location, and deploying the required resources to protect human health and the environment. We will be here for as long as it takes to safely remediate this area.
As of Monday, April 12, Colonial has recovered 24,512 barrels of the previously estimated 28,571 barrels representing approximately 85 percent of that estimate. Ongoing volume recovery indicates the majority of product is being recovered, and the environmental plan is working as designed.
Colonial is recovering the product through an extensive network of recovery and hydraulic wells. In total, there have been 118 wells installed to support product recovery efforts. Additionally, Colonial has collected more than 600 surface and drinking water well samples since last August, and there has not been any detection of petroleum constituents in those collections.
Crews have also spent the past several weeks restoring the right of way and surrounding area in the Oehler Nature Preserve, where grass is now growing around work areas and pathways, and trees have started to bloom for season.
Right-of-Way photo taken April 8, 2021.
Colonial will continue to work with local partners to remediate Oehler Nature Preserve, and we will expand area partnerships as part of our ongoing Environmental Partners Program. We remain committed to protecting public safety, restoring the natural environment, and meeting or exceeding all regulatory requirements.
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