Pipeline Leaks Oil into WY Creek

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 @ 12:02 PM gHale

An underground oil pipeline began leaking Sunday afternoon, allowing oil to flow into a seasonal creek bed and through a culvert under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Orin rail line.

The pipeline east of Gillette, WY, ended up shut down Sunday by the Campbell County Fire Department.

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Personnel from both the Wyoming Homeland Security and Department of Environmental Quality responded to the spill, said Fire Marshal Eric Acton.

The leak ran for a little while, but crews quickly worked to contain the spill, said Campbell County Emergency Management Coordinator David King. Oil leaks are hard to prepare for because there’s no way to know when or where they will happen, he said.

“They have spills from time to time,” King said. “It’s not something we talk about often. It’s like a traffic accident. You don’t plan on them, but they do happen.

“The older the infrastructure gets, we’re likely to get them from old age,” he said.

King said he could only think of one or two other oil spills that occurred over the years, but he said the possibility is always a concern.

The spill affected about on quarter of a mile of the creek bed. The extent of damage and the number of gallons of oil that was lost was not immediately available because most of the oil is still underground, Acton said.

“We’ve got hydrocarbon brooms that keep the oil out of the water to try to contain it so it doesn’t go further downstream,” Acton said. “The rain and extra moisture we’ve got, the flow will increase, so that may change how we contain it. We’re just trying to keep it from spreading.”

The Wyoming DEQ will be responsible for deciding which agency will be the primary cleanup organization as well as figuring out the exact quantity of oil lost during the spill, Acton said.