Washington, D.C. — Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. pressed Buckeye Partners, operator of the pipeline that spilled 350 barrels of gasoline March 16th into wetlands in Linden, NJ., to explain why the rupture happened and how they plan to prevent future spills. Rep. Payne, Jr. is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials and led a letter to the company with five of his New Jersey colleagues.
In the April 6th letter to Clark Smith, president and chief executive officer of Buckeye Partners, Rep. Payne, Jr. said this leak and future ones pose immediate dangers to the environment and major transportation centers, such as Newark Liberty International Airport. Buckeye Partners owns and operates pipelines throughout New York and New Jersey. The letter was co-signed by the five New Jersey Representatives from the area: Reps. Frank Pallone, Albio Sires, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Tom Malinowski and Mikie Sherrill.
“What happened in Linden could have risked the health and safety of thousands of New Jersey residents,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. “The company had warnings that this pipeline was potentially unsafe and yet did nothing about it. I am extremely concerned about the environmental damage that such a spill could cause to local waterways and possibly drinking water systems. I want to know what Buckeye Partners plans to do about this leak and how they plan to prevent future leaks immediately so nothing like this accident happens again.”
The full letter is below.
April 6, 2021
Mr. Clark C. Smith
President and Chief Executive Officer
Buckeye Partners, LP
One Greenway Plaza, Suite 600
Houston, Texas 77046
Dear Mr. Smith:
We write to request information detailing Buckeye Partners, L.P.’s remediation steps and plans to prevent future accidents in response to the March 16, 2021 rupture of one of your 12-inch hazardous liquid pipelines and the subsequent release of 353 barrels of unleaded gasoline in Linden, New Jersey. As Members of Congress who represent districts in or near the pipeline route, we are closely monitoring this accident.
When we were notified of the spill, we were alarmed by the potential harm the unleaded gasoline could do to the nearby Arthur Kill, a navigable body of water that connects to both upper and lower New York Bay. We understand that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Corrective Action Order (CAO) to Buckeye Partners, L.P. on March 19, 2021 and service has recently been restored at a reduced operating pressure.
According to the CAO, during a July 2019 assessment of the pipeline’s integrity, Buckeye Partners, L.P. became aware of “multiple general metal loss and pitting anomalies” but determined that these anomalies were not “of a degree that were actionable.” This is extremely concerning, and we are troubled that no actionable issues were discovered less than two years before the pipeline failed.
Buckeye Partners, L.P.’s pipeline network carries hazardous liquids across New York City and to all three major airports in the New York/New Jersey metro area: Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, and LaGuardia Airport. Further, the March 16 rupture and release occurred in a high consequence area. Thus, we are concerned that a potential future accident could cause environmental damage and jeopardize safety.
Again, we request information detailing Buckeye Partners, L.P.’s actions to respond to the March 16, 2021 rupture and release and the actions you will take to prevent a future accident from occurring.
We thank you in advance for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your prompt response.
Donald M. Payne, Jr.
Member of Congress
Frank Pallone, Jr. Albio Sires Member of Congress Member of Congress
Bill Pascrell, Jr. Tom Malinowski
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Member of Congress