oil spill

Cleanup is continuing and Chevron and authorities are looking into the cause of a pipeline leak outside the Rangely area in which more than 4,800 gallons of oil spilled into a dry drainage.

The leak was discovered March 5 by Chevron personnel in a drainage leading to Stinking Water Creek, and the line was shut off following the discovery.

Two ducks, two other birds and three mice died as a result of the spill.

The incident occurred on Bureau of Land Management land. BLM spokesman David Boyd said the spill initially was estimated at 1,200 barrels, or more than 50,000 gallons. But Erika Conner, spokeperson for Chevron Pipe Line Co., says early reports included recovered barrels of oil combined with snowmelt.

Boyd said the spill involved a 6-inch-diameter oil gathering pipeline.

Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said the oil traveled about 30 feet to an unnamed drainage, then flowed to another drainage, covering about two miles altogether in heavily vegetated terrain.

It stopped at a stormwater siphon about 1.5 miles west of Stinking Water Creek, he said.

He said the failed section of pipe has been sent off for analysis.

Richard Mylott, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency, said that Chevron “had previously installed berms and siphon dams in the unnamed draw as a prevention/preparedness measure for any spills.”

“… Cleanup is ongoing. Crews have vacuumed oil from behind the siphon dam and are currently removing contaminated soils, flushing oil from pockets and steep ditches,” he said.

Both Mylott and Conner said no water was impacted by the spill.

Conner also said there were no public health concerns.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been notified,” she said. “We regret the impact the release has had on the affected animals and are working diligently to avoid any additional impacts to wildlife.”

She said two mallard ducks impacted by the leak were transferred to Colorado Parks and Wildlife March 5, but had died by the next day.

News of the spill comes days after the Center for Western Priorities conservation group reported that Chevron last year reported the fourth-highest number of spills of any energy company in Colorado, with 31. Responding to that report, the company said in a statement Monday that it “aggressively manages the risk of spills through a rigorous ongoing asset integrity program wherever we operate.”

It said it has undertaken a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project to streamline and upgrade facilities and systems at its largest Colorado asset, in the Rangely area.

“The program will continue through 2018. To date, approximately 11 miles of pipes have been removed from service,” Chevron said.

Conner said Tuesday, “At Chevron, we place the highest priority on the health and safety of our workforce and protection of the community, the environment and our assets.

“We have comprehensive plans and procedures in place to respond to situations like this one and are committed to working with local, state and federal agencies and authorities to respond to the incident and ensure its cleanup and recovery,” Conner said.”


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