Colonial Pipeline Frequently Asked Questions
Updated March 9, 2021
Following this notification, Colonial shut in the pipeline in a matter of minutes and immediately dispatched crews to the site. Colonial personnel completed repairs to the pipeline on August 19 by placing a type B sleeve over the affected segment, then safely restarted the pipeline.
As we continue to respond to the incident, protecting the safety of the community and the environment are our top priorities. Colonial is committed to providing the resources necessary for site clean-up, monitoring and remediation efforts.
Representatives from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), as well as the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), were on site to observe the pipe removal; the impacted pipe segment was then sent to an independent laboratory for metallurgical analysis, which is a key step in determining the cause of the release. The removal of this segment of pipe was not required, as a permanent sleeve had been installed during the initial emergency response phase of the incident. However, Colonial took this additional step as part of its commitment to further assess the cause of the release.
As of January 21, 2021, Colonial had installed 131 wells at the site as part of the response process. Colonial continues to work closely with NCDEQ on remediation at the site and we’re committed to communicating openly with all stakeholders to keep them informed of our activities, findings and progress as we continue our efforts.
Colonial will be active at this location until we are fully satisfied that the site has been properly remediated and restored.
In addition to the metallurgical analysis, we are conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the release and to prevent this type of incident from happening again.
Colonial’s goal is always to provide accurate information. We appreciate your patience as we continually gather more data through our work in the field. This data gathering informs our response and cleanup efforts and allows us to continue to respond to questions and concerns in a factual and data-driven way.
Protecting the community and the environment are Colonial’s top priorities. Since we were notified of the release, Colonial has been constantly monitoring water and air quality around the site to ensure the safety of the public and response personnel.
As of January 21, 2021, Colonial had installed 131 wells at the site specifically as part of the response process.
- Of the 131 wells installed, 81 have been installed as monitoring wells, and 50 are recovery wells. Neither type of well is used for potable water.
- We are installing monitoring wells at depths of approximately 30 feet.
- The 81 monitoring wells include seven wells installed at deeper depths, in consultation with NCDEQ, as part of proactive efforts to vertically assess groundwater.
- When Colonial encounters product in a monitoring well, product recovery begins immediately in an effort to control and limit any further migration. Colonial also is supplementing our current recovery systems with additional technologies.
Surface water sampling continues to be conducted weekly and after any qualifying storm events.
As reported by Mecklenburg County officials, there has been no impact to surface water and no impact to drinking water wells, any municipal drinking water sources or sanitary lines.
Colonial has successfully implemented proactive measures to protect the closest surface waters, the North Prong of Clark Creek. These are precautionary measures, and we continue to monitor the situation closely as we work with local and state resources. The North Prong of Clark Creek has not been affected by the incident. We conduct frequent visual monitoring throughout the day as well as weekly surface water sampling.
We are working closely with a number of federal, state and local agencies, including the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as local governments and first responders.
More than 250 people were involved in the initial response effort.
Nevertheless, as a proactive measure, we have offered to connect residents within the 1,500-foot monitoring radius established by NCDEQ to the public water system and to pay for the costs associated with doing so. While this measure is not required by NCDEQ, we want homeowners to feel comfortable with the quality and integrity of their drinking water.
Homeowners who have been offered the opportunity to connect to public water are free to decline the offer. If they do so, Colonial will continue to monitor and test their water wells, at no cost to the homeowners, for the foreseeable future.
Colonial submitted its Initial Abatement Report (IAR) to NCDEQ on Friday, October 30, 2020. We are now working to develop a Comprehensive Site Assessment Report, and a Corrective Action Plan, both of which will be submitted to NCDEQ. We submitted our latest monthly report to NCDEQ on November 30, 2020.
At this time, we have additional data and feel comfortable maintaining the 1,500-foot monitoring radius specified by NCDEQ.
Colonial participated in City of Huntersville Town Hall meetings on August 27, September 8, and November 16 to answer questions from residents and hear from experts. More information about the Town Hall meetings can be found at https://www.huntersville.org/
We encourage all community members to visit our response website at https://sr2448.colonialresponse.com/ for the most recent status updates, video recordings of meetings with local officials and state regulators, and other crucial information.
Colonial has been in the community for over 50 years. We are committed to working to earn the trust of our neighbors back over time through our actions.
Colonial uses the “Incident Command System,” a standardized hierarchical structure that allows for a cooperative response by multiple agencies, to organize, manage, and coordinate response activities.
Upon confirmation of a release, Colonial initiated additional incident response protocols to control the flow of product and begin active recovery. Our employees and contractors are highly trained and activated as soon as we were notified of a release.
- Aerial and foot patrols along the right-of-way.
- A 24/7 control center that electronically monitors our pipelines.
- Participation in the 811/one call system.
- A public awareness program that provides pipeline safety information and keeps stakeholders informed.
- An integrity management program that inspects both the interior and exterior of the pipelines.
- A Safety Management System (SMS) that is integrated throughout the company based on standards developed by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and peer pipeline operators, Colonial’s SMS provides a framework that drives continuous improvement and excellence in safety.
- Extensive employee training and a contractor safety program.
We meet or exceed all industry and regulatory standards for these programs.
Colonial is committed to protecting the safety of the public and the environment. Our Safety Management System is focused on continuous improvement and integrating safety into every aspect of our operations.
Detailed information regarding Colonial’s safety-related practices, including our Safety Data Sheet, can be found on Colonial’s public website.
- Federal regulations require that pipeline right-of-ways be visually inspected 26 times per year, but Colonial inspects the right-of-ways for Lines 1 and 2 on a weekly basis.
- Also, in accordance with pipeline safety regulations, Colonial inspects Lines 1 and 2 at least once every five years using in-line-inspection tools.
- These highly-advanced tools travel through the system to inspect it from the inside out. The “smart pigs” use a variety of technologies, one of which is similar to what doctors use for ultrasounds. The different technologies collect and deliver data on the condition of the pipeline, which Colonial engineers then analyze to help Colonial determine whether additional actions or maintenance on the pipelines may be needed.
For more information on Colonial’s safety and system integrity program, click here.
Colonial has held weekly briefings and been in regular communications with elected officials in Huntersville and Mecklenburg County since the release. We will continue to keep them updated on our response and remediation efforts and to ensure they are equipped with the facts to respond to inquiries from local residents.
We believe this collaborative approach is essential in working together to effectively respond.
Colonial takes every report of a potential product release very seriously. Upon notification, we immediately investigate the situation and dispatch employees to the location. Colonial will send additional resources, if needed, and will work collaboratively with local and state public safety agencies to ensure public safety.