Bastrop County, TX (AM) — A crude oil pipeline spill in Bastrop County, Texas, Thursday morning released an estimated 1,200 barrels of oil — over 50,000 gallons — prompting evacuations of residents closest to the rupture.
The Longhorn Pipeline is owned and operated by Magellan Midstream Partners and runs from Crane, Texas, to Houston, according to Reuters. It transports up to 250,000 barrels a day and was under routine maintenance when the spill occurred.
Residents who live within a two-mile radius of the leak have been advised to stay indoors, according to the sheriff’s department and local emergency officials, Reuters reports. Texas ABC affiliate KVUE-ABC and the Washington Post both reported that residents within one mile of the spill were asked to evacuate.
No injuries have been reported, and Reuters reports that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has dispatched an inspector to the site, located just south of Shiloh Road.
Texas outlet KVUE-ABC reported that FM 20, a road in the area, has been closed in both directions, and according to Reuters,
According to a statement issued by Magellan after the incident, as cited by KVUE:
“The pipeline was immediately and safely shut down and the line segment has been isolated. Efforts are in progress to contain the crude oil release to minimize environmental impact and to ensure public safety.”
Magellan also said “Local emergency responders, Magellan representatives, clean-up crews, and environmental crews are currently on site. All appropriate federal and state agencies have been notified. Clean-up activities will be underway this morning.”
According to general information about Longhorn on the company’s website:
“Longhorn is committed to constructing, operating, and maintaining its pipeline assets in a manner that ensures the long-term safety to the public and to its employees, and that minimizes the potential for negative environmental impacts.
“Longhorn, through its Longhorn Pipeline System Integrity Plan (LPSIP), is committed to the philosophy and proactive practice of the prevention of accidents.”
Despite the company’s stated commitments, it appears their policies and procedures are lacking considering the leak occurred during routine maintenance. A Spokesman for the company, Bruce Heine, said the rupture occurred when a contractor struck a fitting. In 2013, Longhorn leaked a smaller amount of oil, also during routine maintenance.
Earlier this year, the Magellan Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Magellan Midstream Partners, paid a settlement over three alleged Clean Water Act violations related to spills of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel spills in Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska. The subsidiary “agreed to complete approximately $16 million of injunctive relief across its 11,000-mile pipeline system and pay a $2 million civil penalty,” according to a Department of Justice news release.
Despite multiple instances of poor handling and insufficient safety procedures, the company insists it “is committed to safe operations of our assets. We maintain the highest standards in safety to do so.”
As leaks continue to riddle communities across the country despite advocates’ suggestions that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil — in 1999, Longhorn advocates claimed it could be one of the safest lines in the country — the need for alternative forms of energy continues to become increasingly clear.