Worth County, Iowa, has a sticky situation on its hands with a ruptured pipeline that leaked — according to original estimates — approximately 140,000 gallons of diesel fuel into farmland on Wednesday with about a foot of snow already on the ground.
The pipeline near Hanlontown is owned by Magellan Midstream Partners, and an investigation is underway into how the 3,300 barrels of diesel leaked out from the 12-inch, 127-mile long pipeline. A repair crew reported to the scene sometime after the 8 a.m. pipeline break.
As reported by the Des Moines Register, an official with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources described the leak as “a big one — it’s significant. The responsible party is Magellan, so they’ll have to bear the cost of clean up.” Enough fuel leaked out to supply 10 gas stations, the official suggested.
Although the cause of the environmental incident is as yet unknown, a company spokesperson said the leak has been contained, and the Worth County Sheriff indicated that no public health risk is implicated. No one was harmed, and evacuations were unnecessary, the sheriff’s office added.
The pipeline runs through six Midwestern states “as a transport route for multiple refined oil products,” NPR noted. Fortunately, the IDR official said the diesel “had not reached nearby Willow Creek or a wildlife protection area.”
As of Wednesday, clean up crews had already removed about 25,000 gallons of the leaked diesel and a contaminated snow-diesel mixture, the Mason City Globe Gazette explained. The company will also remove the contaminated soil once all the liquid is sucked up.
In an update from the Mason City Globe Gazette, the company claimed yesterday that it overestimated the size of the spill, which may not be as bad as originally projected. Under the revised assessment, the pipeline break released about 47,000 gallons of diesel, or 1,115 barrels. “Magellan spokesman Bruce Heine said the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company arrived at Monday’s lower estimate when it calculated how much diesel had to be pumped back into the pipeline to get it back on line.” Magellan reported the revised leak amount to the Iowa agency and the EPA. Both are on the scene monitoring the cleanup.
In October 2016, a Magellan-operated pipeline in Nebraska carrying anhydrous ammonia ruptured and resulted in the death of one person and the evacuation of neighboring residents. About seven years ago, Magellan paid $46,200 for Clean Water Act violations elsewhere in Iowa as a result of a diesel spill, as well as a $418,000 fine for an Oklahoma gasoline spill. [Related: learn more about contamination testing here.]