An oil leak about 20 miles east of Gillette dumped about 1,500 gallons of crude oil into a creek bed Sunday afternoon.
The leak allowed about 40 barrels of oil to flow into the seasonal creek bed of Timber Creek as well as through a culvert under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Orin railroad line, according to the Campbell County Fire Department.
Keith Guille, the spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, said the leak was on a 6-inch pipeline and was caused by internal corrosion. The pipeline is owned by Belle Fourche Pipeline, which has been leading the effort to clean up the spill.
Fire personnel were in the area Monday using hydrocarbon booms to help contain the oil and keep it from spreading into the water, Fire Marshal Eric Acton said. But the rain and snow from Monday didn’t make the job any easier. Some of the excess oil also was being burned off the water and black smoke could be seen along the railroad tracks as a result.
“The rain and extra moisture we’ve got, the flow will increase, so that may change how we contain it,” Acton said Monday morning. “We’re just trying to keep it from spreading.”
The spill affected about ¼ mile of the creek bed, but the extent of damage and any monetary value wasn’t available. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is in charge of the investigation and will be determining the oversight from here.
“We did allow for a burn of some of that soil, and believe it or not, that helps with re-vegetation many times,” Guille said. “It reduces the impact to the soil itself. There also will be mop up operations that will be flushing drainage to some barriers and using absorbent booms.”
The age of the pipe may have played a large part in causing the leak, which was determined to be a corroded pipe.