Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a second agreed interim order in an ongoing lawsuit against Marathon Pipe Line LLC (Marathon) over the March 2022 release of approximately 147,000 gallons of heavy crude oil from a pipeline near Edwardsville, Illinois.
Raoul filed the order in Madison County Circuit Court which requires Marathon to fully investigate the impact of the spill and determine whether further corrective action may be needed.
“The order my office filed ensures Marathon takes necessary action to eliminate both environmental and human health risks from the areas impacted by the spill,” Raoul said. “My office is committed to ensuring the remediation of the affected water and soil surrounding Cahokia Creek while our lawsuit continues.”
Raoul’s lawsuit alleges that Marathon violated the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and endangered public health and the environment by causing or allowing a discharge of heavy crude oil to Cahokia Creek in an area that includes residential neighborhoods, commercial properties, agricultural properties, forested areas and a wetland.
The second agreed interim order requires Marathon to report all actions taken to remove and properly dispose of the crude oil discharged into Cahokia Creek and the surrounding wetland habitat. Marathon will also be required to submit and execute an investigation and remedial action plan – subject to the state’s review and approval – for the assessment of the areas affected by the release. The purpose of the work is to ensure that Marathon takes the actions necessary to eliminate environmental and health risks from these areas. Under the order, Marathon is also required to reimburse the state for costs of oversight and report monthly on all work performed under the order.
Marathon operates approximately 6,000 miles of underground pipelines in 14 states, including Illinois. The underground pipelines transport crude oil and petroleum products to and from terminals, refineries and other pipelines. Among those pipelines, Marathon operates a line – known as the Woodpat line – that runs from Wood River, Illinois to Patoka, Illinois, which was carrying heavy crude oil at the time of the release.
According to Raoul’s lawsuit, an oil refinery reported to the National Response Center that oil of unknown origin in Cahokia Creek – which flows to the Mississippi River – on March 11, 2022. Later that morning, Marathon reported a release of crude oil from the Woodpat line due to equipment failure. Raoul alleges that the pipeline release of heavy crude oil to soil, wetlands and Cahokia Creek killed at least 10 animals and impacted at least 1.6 acres of wetland and seven miles of Cahokia Creek.
Crude oil is toxic to aquatic organisms and plants, affecting respiration, feeding and thermo-regulation in wildlife. In humans, the inhalation of crude oil fumes is known to cause chemical pneumonia; irritation of the nose, throat and lungs; headaches; dizziness; drowsiness; loss of coordination; fatigue; nausea and labored breathing.
The Attorney General’s office filed the lawsuit in March 2022, based on a referral from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The second agreed interim order will remain in place while litigation is pending.
Assistant Attorneys General Emma Hudspath and Kevin Barnai are handling the case for Raoul’s Environmental Bureau.