Chevron Corp. and Colorado authorities are investigating the rupture of a six-inch pipeline that released about 4,800 gallons of oil into a northwestern Colorado stream.
A consultant working for Chevron reportedly discovered the oil spill March 5. The spilled oil, which was initially reported to be about 50,000 gallons in volume, traveled about two miles downstream along and intermittent, unnamed tributary of Stinking Water Creek in Rio Blanco County near the Utah border.
The oil stopped at a small dam that had been built downstream of the pipeline as a preventative measure to contain oil spills, the Associated Press reported. The extent of the environmental harm wasn’t immediately clear, but the bodies of several small animals, birds, and ducks were discovered by cleanup crews.
According to the AP, Chevron stopped the flow of oil on March 7.
Chevron has not determined what caused the pipeline to fail. Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, told the AP that an investigation of the spill was ongoing and the section of failed pipe was being analyzed.
A decline in oil drilling activity in Colorado has led to fewer spills in 2015 and 2016, but the state still experiences several hundred oil spills each year. According to oil industry accident reports collected by the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation group that advocates for responsible environmental policies and practices in the American West, 509 spills were reported to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission last year, down from 615 spills in 2015 and 712 spills in 2014.
Sources: Associated Press