Company pleads guilty to ammonia spill

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
6 September 2007, at 1:00am

US - A company has pleaded guilty to killing 25,000 fish after its pipeline ruptured near Wichita three years ago and released a big cloud of ammonia.

Officials of Mid-America Pipeline Company, who were in federal court Tuesday in Kansas City, also agreed to pay a $1 million penalty.

The pipeline ruptured in October 2004, releasing more than 1 million pounds of liquid ammonia and creating a cloud that was a mile-and-a-half long and a half-mile wide, said court documents.

About 204,000 gallons of ammonia were released into nearby Smoots Creek. The ammonia killed the fish, including some that were on the endangered species list, and vegetation, according to court records.

Initially, company workers reported that only 20 gallons had been released. As a result, emergency responders did not go to the scene for 12 hours. The ammonia had already spread at least 12 miles by then.

Federal law requires that in the event of a chemical spill, companies immediately notify the National Response Center.