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Magellan Pipeline Break Status Update



The petroleum product spill from the ruptured Magellan pipeline near Nemaha NE has been mostly contained and the contractors on site are transitioning into the long-term cleanup phase of operation.

The break in the pipeline on December 10, caused by a bulldozer clearing brush on farmland, released a total volume of 2,834 barrels of petroleum products, a mixture of gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. Original estimates of as much as 6,000 barrels were revised downward once the pipeline company calculated pressure loss data, volumetric metering and free product cleanup from the site. The 2,834 barrel figure equates to 119,028 gallons.

Itemized losses for the three products involved were 650 gallons of diesel fuel, 655 gallons of JP8 (jet fuel), and 1,529 gallons of gasoline, according to Magellan.

Responders on site were concerned about the effect of rain forecast for the area, but actual rainfall through Wednesday was less than had been predicted. Additional earth berms and underflow dams on waterways had been constructed to contain rainfall runoff. Pumps were used to move additional water around two of the underflow dams, as the pipes that siphon clear water from the bottom of the dam were not able to handle the peak flow.

Monitoring was conducted before, during and after the rainfall event to monitor any movement of petroleum products. Some contamination has been discovered down-gradient from the spill site. In order to detect any further movement, a number of sampling sites have been established further along the waterway, with the furthest monitoring point within one-quarter mile of the Little Nemaha River.

Company employees and contractors have been flushing the unnamed creek nearest the spill with clear water to clear any remaining contamination from the surface of the creek and vegetation. Backhoes have been used to sample soil in the waterway, and a geoprobe rig has been collecting samples to provide a vertical profile of contamination. Monitoring of air, water and soil at the spill site will continue as a cleanup plan is formulated.

A collection point is planned at the lower end of the field waterway that leads from the spill site. This excavation is designed to intercept any petroleum product flowing from the site.

The rain in the area has caused problems with access to the entire site, as one of the main access roads was a low-maintenance roadway not suitable for all-weather use. A concerted push is being made to improve that county road to provide access to the site for trucks and other equipment. An additional quarter-mile of road is being constructed to allow access to the collection point at the lower end of the waterway.

There has been little observed effect to wildlife in the spill area, with only a few small fish killed in the immediate area of the rupture. Contractors flushing the creek discovered and relocated a turtle from a downstream portion of the waterway.

Long-term cleanup efforts will commence once a complete picture of the contamination is developed. A thorough investigative process will precede reclamation procedures, but no estimate of a time frame for cleanup has yet been developed, pending that investigation.

Magellan Midstream Partners and their contractors will report the progress of monitoring, sampling and cleanup operations to NDEQ on a continuing basis to ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations.