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U.S. government sues Sunoco over rupture in gas pipeline that caused 2012 spill in Wellington

By Eric Heisig • Apr 3, 2017 at 3:00 PM

CLEVELAND -- The federal government has filed suit against Sunoco over a 2012 spill in Wellington that forced the evacuation of 70 residents in a small Lorain County village.

The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland says Sunoco found a defect in the Forstoria-Hudson pipeline during an inspection in 2007, nearly five years before an underground portion of the pipeline ruptured and spewed more than 89,000 gallons of gasoline.

The eight-inch gas line, built in the 1950s, carries gasoline and other Sunoco products from Toledo to the Pittsburgh area. Oil flowed out of a 30-inch rupture of the pipeline, which caused the evacuation of those whose lived in a mobile home park and apartment complex nearby.

The defect was not fixed, or even inspected again, prior to the pipe rupture in 2012, the suit says. Gasoline flowed into two waterways, the White Ditch and the Black River, polluting the water and harming wildlife, according to the lawsuit.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that Sunoco violated the Clean Water Act. The government is suing for damages.

Under federal law, Sunoco can be forced to pay up to $1,100 per barrel of oil in damages, which would add up to $2.15 million if judgment was entered against the company.

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko.

A spokesman for Sunoco Logistics did not immediately return a phone call.

Village officials at the time said gas came up through a Wellington Township Service garage and pooled as deep as six inches before flowing into White Ditch.

Sunoco and contractors worked to remove the gasoline following the spill. Residents were allowed to return to their homes after a week.

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