Billings, Mont. (AP) — Wyoming diesel pipeline owned by accused company federal prosecutor A crack opened and released more than 45,000 gallons (205,000 liters) of fuel, state regulators and company representatives said Friday, beyond previous spills in two other states.
Joe Hunter, emergency response coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, said cleanup operations are underway from a spill discovered by a pipeline operator on July 27. He said it spilled onto the sands of a private ranch near the community and didn’t spread far.
The contaminated soil has been excavated, placed in a temporary staging area, and spread over a nearby dirt road where the fuel is expected to largely evaporate, Hunter said.
The line is operated by Bridger Pipelines, a subsidiary of Casper-based True Corporation, according to an accident report filed with the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center.
The company initially reported that only 420 gallons (1,590 liters) had been spilled, but later revised the estimate to 45,150 gallons (205,250 liters), according to the National Response Center database.
Bridger Pipeline spokesperson Bill Salvin said the initial numbers were based on what company officials saw on the ground and reported back immediately. Estimates of the amount increased as the site was excavated, he said.
True and its subsidiaries have a long history of exfiltration. In May, federal prosecutors in Montana allege Bridger and his pipeline representatives hid from regulators problems with a pipeline that burst under the Yellowstone River near the city of Glendive in 2015. Did.river and Dirty Glendive’s drinking water supply.
In North Dakota, federal prosecutors and the state attorney general’s office are filing parallel environmental complaints against a second True Companies subsidiary. 2016 spill More than 600,000 gallons (2.7 million liters) of crude oil were released, polluting the Little Missouri River and its tributaries.
Representatives from both companies have denied violations of pollution laws and rejected allegations that the Montana Line problem had been covered up by federal regulators.
Hunter said the leak in Wyoming was caused by cracked welds on the line, and he didn’t know how long it had been leaking before it was discovered. The spilled fuel did not appear to reach any waterways, and no enforcement action was planned for environmental violations, he said.
“I’m not saying there’s nothing in the future, but right now there’s no state enforcement action. This is the old pipeline and one of the things that’s happening.”
The 6-inch (15-centimeter) diameter steel wire was installed by the original owner in 1968 and was later acquired by the Bridger Pipeline, Salvin said. It was last inspected in 2019 using a device that moves inside the pipe looking for defects, and no problems were detected, he said.
“We are focused on minimizing our environmental impact and intend to replace the soil and return it to as close to pristine condition as possible,” Salvin said.
Kenneth Clarkson of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a Bellingham, Wash.-based group that advocates for safer pipelines, said the cause of the spill needed to be thoroughly investigated.
“It’s frustrating to hear of another leak by Bridger Pipelines LLC,” Clarkson said.
Violations of pipeline safety regulations are handled separately and fall under the jurisdiction of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Salvin said authorities had been notified of the leak, but officials did not immediately respond to questions from the Associated Press.
Bridger reached a $2 million settlement with the federal government and Montana last year for damages from the Yellowstone River spill. The company previously fined him $1 million by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
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