Yesterday, Chevron discovered a leaking pipeline that was spewing 50 gallons of crude oil per minute into Red Butte Creek in Salt Lake City, UT. By the time crews capped the leak, more than 21,000 gallons — between 400-500 barrels — of oil had spilled out, “coating geese and ducks” and closing the city’s largest park. The Salt Lake City Tribune writes:
Chevron pledged to clean up the 6-mile mess, but the company could not quantify the damage. As of late Saturday, Chevron said the leak had been stopped. But company representatives could not say when it began, how much oil spilled into city waterways and why — despite pipeline monitors — it apparently took hours to learn of the accident. [...]
By then [just before 8 a.m., when Chevron shut down the pipe], oil had reached Liberty Park’s pond, drenching Canada geese and Mallard ducks. At least 150 birds were rescued from the pond and taken to Hogle Zoo to be cleaned. Some were goslings and chicks as young as a week old. [...]
Depending on amounts, the spill could disrupt the food chain for the long term, killing bottom-dwelling invertebrates that feed fish, said Walt Baker, director of the state Division of Water Quality.
Gov. Gary Herbert (R) put out a statement calling the spill a “devastating situation.” This disaster comes just four days after the governor put out his energy plan, which called for more oil production in Utah:
For example, just recently a Utah company partnered with Utah State University’s Energy Dynamics Lab to announce new technology that will purify contaminated water and clear the air during on‐shore oil and gas recovery, such as the production in eastern and central Utah. Put in the context of the ongoing off‐shore Gulf Coast petroleum disaster, this has even greater significance. One might ask: “Why are we drilling in the middle of the ocean where there is extreme environmental risk when we could be meeting the demand for domestic production from on‐shore development in areas with minimal environmental risk such as Utah?”
Last month, both Herbert and Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) tried to block the Interior Department’s reforms for onshore oil and gas leasing. Herbert “said that if Interior doesn’t reconsider its drilling reforms, Utah might sue the federal government.”