RANGELY, COLORADO — About 4,800 gallons of oil spilled from a broken Chevron Corporation pipeline and flowed into an intermittent stream on public land in northwestern Colorado, company representatives and industry regulators said Tuesday.
Disclosure of the accident earlier this month in Rio Blanco County came as a conservation group reported spills from oil and gas development fell for the second straight year in 2016 amid a slowdown in drilling.
In the Chevron breach, crude from a failed 6-inch pipeline travelled about 2 miles downstream along an unnamed tributary of Stinking Water Creek near the town of Rangely, state and federal officials said.
The oil was stopped by a small dam that had been installed downstream of the pipeline as a preventive measure to contain spills.
The pipeline break was found March 5 by a company consultant, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The cause of the failure is under investigation and cleanup work is continuing, Chevron spokeswoman Erika Conner said.
The spill was earlier reported by federal officials to involve more than 50,000 gallons of oil. But Conner said that figure was erroneous and included a mix of oil and water recovered by cleanup crews in the area around the pipeline.
Federal officials were reviewing data from the cleanup and could not yet confirm the amount spilled, EPA spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool said.
Two ducks covered in oil died after being found at the spill site in the days after the break was discovered. Two small birds and several mice were later found dead by cleanup crews, according to Conner.
Colorado Department of Natural Resources spokesman Todd Hartman says the failed section of pipeline is being analyzed to determine a cause.
An examination of industry accident data by the conservation group Center for Western Priorities found 509 spills reported to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission last year, down from 615 the year before, the Daily Sentinel reported on Tuesday. There were 712 spills reported in 2014.
Weld County had the most spills reported last year with 246, followed by Las Animas County with 51 and Garfield County with 46.
The state lowered the threshold for reporting spills in 2013. Starting in 2014, it required all spills of more than a barrel outside a secondary containment area to be reported within 24 hours.