EPA responds to crude release near rawlins, WY
Denver, colorado -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to respond to an oil spill affecting a portion of Emigrant Creek approximately 20 miles southwest of Rawlins, Wyo. EPA is overseeing cleanup actions at the spill site, including the removal of oil and the deployment of booms to capture releases to the creek. EPA will continue to coordinate response activities with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) and local property owners through the next several weeks.
On May 26, EPA responded to a request for assistance from BLM’s Rawlins field office for an oil spill response on an ephemeral tributary to Emigrant Creek, which flows into Little Sage Creek, off of Bridger Pass Road. BLM was notified of the spill on May 22 and upon investigation identified a discharge of oil near equipment owned and operated by Nadel and Gussman Rockies, LLC. BLM and the company conducted oil containment and collection activities at the site from May 22-26. In addition, BLM and WDEQ collected water samples to assess water quality along the reach of the spill.
Site investigations suggest the oil discharge was from the Espy # 12 Tank Battery unit, a piece of equipment that separates water from oil. The oil flowed to Emigrant Creek and continued further downstream. Vegetation along the stream banks was oiled and strong petroleum odors were noted in the area near the Tank Battery. Impacts are concentrated upstream of Bridger Pass Road; no oil or oil sheen has been observed at Teton Reservoir.
Based on site conditions and the apparent weathered nature of the oil, EPA suspects the discharge occurred at least several weeks prior to May 22 when the spill was reported by a concerned citizen. EPA has issued a compliance order requiring Nadel and Gussman Rockies, LLC to conduct cleanup actions at the site and will make determinations regarding additional enforcement actions as its investigation continues.
When EPA response staff arrived at the site several response activities had already been initiated. These included blocking a culvert at the Bridger Pass Road crossing and constructing a siphon to slow flow and collect oil. In addition, sorbent booms were deployed and filter fences constructed at various locations to capture oil. Crews worked by hand to chip contaminated snow from the edges of the snowpack. Affected vegetation and streambed were flushed to remove and collect as much oil as possible.
EPA will oversee additional cleanup actions in close coordination with partners and the company over the next several weeks. Boom maintenance will continue through spring runoff, as additional oil product will be released from the snowpack. Additional response actions are being considered to remove oil from vegetation and soils.
Any operator responsible for discharges of oil with the potential to reach surface waters is required to report the incident immediately to the National Response Center at 800-424-8802. Failure to report a discharge is a violation of the Clean Water Act, which can result in higher penalties, greater cleanup costs and increased environmental damage.