Mid-America Pipeline Co. has agreed to a $1 million criminal penalty after pleading guilty last week to negligently releasing 200,000 gallons of ammonia into a Kansas creek, according to the EPA. The release forced the evacuation of nearby residents and killed 25,000 fish.
In October 2004, a pipeline owned by the company ruptured approximately six miles west of Kingman, Kan., releasing approximately 204,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia into Smoots Creek. Two threatened species were among the fish killed.
The company failed to provide correct information to the National Response Center and local responders about the magnitude of the release, delaying a more comprehensive response, the EPA said. The ammonia spread through at least 12 miles of the creek.
"Failure to accurately report spills of toxic chemicals weakens EPA's ability to effectively respond to chemical incidents," said Granta Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance. "The company's negligence made the situation worse."
As required by law, the company notified the National Response Center, but incorrectly reported that only 20 gallons of ammonia had been released to the creek. Companies must report any ammonia releases over 100 pounds, which is equivalent to approximately 15 gallons. The company did not submit a revised notification until about six weeks after the release.
The criminal penalty will be paid into the Oil Spill and Hazardous Substances Clean-Up Trust Fund.