Energy company Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminals was sentenced Wednesday for its improper disposal of potash (potassium chloride) in violation of the Ocean Dumping Act. In 2003, a KMBT employee dumped 160 metric tons of potash into the ocean after the substance came into contact with water and was therefore unsaleable. KMBT will pay a $156,000 fine and make an $84,000 community service payment to the Oregon Governor's Fund for the Environment. Calling KMBT's actions a "costly" violation of federal law, an EPA agent who investigated the incident said:
It is hard to imagine a clearer violation of the Ocean Dumping Act...Intentionally using the ocean as a garbage can for off spec potash is not only morally wrong, it's a crime. [KMBT] has paid a serious price for not taking care of this properly at the dock.KMBT said that as part of the settlement:
The government and the company acknowledge in a joint factual statement filed with the court that no harm was done to the environment; the former employee's actions constituted a violation of company policy; the company did not benefit financially from the incident; and no personnel outside of the [incident] either approved or had any knowledge of the former employee's arrangements.In 2006, KMBT settled with the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for damage caused by its Pacific network of petroleum pipelines. Problems with the company's pipelines in the region have led to over 40 spills and ruptures, including a 2004 explosion in California that killed five construction workers. KMBT agreed to spend $90 million over five years to improve its oil pipelines in the region.