A Tekamah man has sued Magellan Ammonia Pipeline, alleging the company's negligence led to a deadly anhydrous ammonia leak in October 2016.
In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Steve Chace, who works as an environmental scientist, said before the incident he had twice reported circumstances suggesting a pipeline leak to the company, but the company failed to make a permanent repair.
On Oct. 17, 2016, a temporary repair made three years earlier failed, leading to the release of 81,500 gallons of anhydrous ammonia, his attorney, David Domina, wrote in the lawsuit.
As a result, he said, Chace sustained physical and emotional injuries, as well as property damage.
"He was nearly killed, fled on foot for his life after and as he reported the release, and watched his neighbor's death occur at a point too far from his location to intervene," Domina said.
The suit alleges Magellan Ammonia Pipeline and Magellan Midstream Partners LP, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, failed to adhere to hazardous liquid pipeline safety criteria and gas pipeline safety criteria.
The night it happened, Chace was at home north of Tekamah and awoke choking on dangerous levels of anhydrous ammonia.
He looked out the window and saw a white plume of gas billowing 30 to 40 feet into the air.
The eight-inch pipeline had ruptured about 460 feet west of his home.
One man, 59-year-old Phillip Hennig, lost his life when he drove into the plume. Local emergency responders evacuated about 40 people living in the 23 homes within two miles of the spill.