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Dec 232008

By Tom Kessler
Green Right Now

ExxonMobil Corporation’s pipeline subsidiary has agreed to plead guilty and pay more than $6 million in fines and other charges for a 15,000-gallon spill of diesel oil into the Mystic River from ExxonMobil’s oil terminal in Everett, Mass.

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had filed charges in federal court that ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corporation, violated the criminal provisions of the Clean Water Act. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.

ExxonMobil owns the marine distribution terminal in Everett, where oil tankers deliver petroleum products that are then distributed throughout the region. An inland “tank farm” at the terminal was compromised when pipes and valves connected the tanks leaked oil into waters that feed into the Mystic River and, ultimately, into Boston Harbor.

The government said the company’s “negligent failure to provide adequate resources and oversight to the maintenance and operation of the Everett terminal was a direct cause of the spill.”

In particular, ExxonMobil negligently failed to replace the leaking seal valve on Berth 3, and to replace the unpainted and corroded coupling at Berth 1, which ruptured as a result of the leakage and pressure build-up in the product receipt line.

As part of its plea agreement, ExxonMobil agreed to pay:

  • The maximum possible fine of $359,018 (twice the cost of the clean up)
  • The clean up costs of $179,634
  • A community service payment of $5,640,982 to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act fund to be used to restore wetlands in Massachusetts

ExxonMobil also agreed that for the next three years, the Everett facility will be monitored by an court-appointed official and will be subject to a rigorous environmental compliance program.