Kinder Morgan settles Walnut Creek gasoline spill case

At an on-site afternoon press conference California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a big money settlement with Kinder Morgan. It settles two charges for a gasoline pipeline spill in Walnut Creek a year ago.

It was quite a crack that leaked 63,000 gallons of gasoline, into a Walnut Creek drainage canal, a lot of which ended up in the soil and rocks. That's enough gasoline to fill seven large semi gasoline tanker trucks.

The Attorney General said Kinder Morgan's SFPP division first noticed a drop in pressure on its instruments for at least two weeks, but did nothing, until one of its employees noticed the stench and sheen of the massive leak at the site. 

"Sentenced in Superior Court and ordered to pay $2.5 million in fines, penalties and assessments for clean up, for restitution and for investigative costs," said Attorney General Bonta. The state Department for Fish and Wildlife conducted the investigation. 

"To pursue companies and hold them liable and penalize when they pollute and when they knowingly fail to begin appropriate clean up measures as required by state law," said the Department's Ryan Thiem.

Beside this case, Kinder Morgan's corporate rap sheep includes a 2005 incident where it spilled twice as much oil in Suisun Marsh. And, in 2004, a deadly Walnut Creek pipeline explosion that killed five people. "The company has also been placed on probation for 18 months," said Bonta.

Kinder Morgan's guilty plea is for two misdemeanors, not felonies, so no one will be jailed or personally punished. But, said Bonta, the message should be clear, "If you endanger our communities and environment by failing to follow the law, you will be held accountable."

Some neighbors came by to tell the Attorney General that they were angry that they were not included in the restitution and restoration of this case and want his help to get it.