Pipeline Breaks in Wyoming, Spills 45,000 Gallons of Diesel Fuel

by Sean Griffin

A diesel pipeline in Wyoming cracked open and released more than 45,000 gallons of fuel, according to the Associated Press.

The pipeline is owned by a company that is currently being sued by federal prosecutors over previous spills in two other states. The pipeline’s operator discovered the spill, and cleanup work commenced shortly after. According to Joe Hunter, the Emergency Response Coordinator with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the fuel spilled into sandy soil on private ranch land.

The ranch is located near the small community of Sussex in eastern Wyoming . The spill did not spread very far, apparently.

Contaminated soil was being excavated. It will be spread onto a nearby dirt road where the fuel is expected to mostly evaporate, Hunter said.

The line is operated by Bridger Pipeline, a subsidiary of Casper-based True companies.

The company initially reported only 420 gallons (1,590 liters) had spilled. However, they later revised their estimate to 45,150 gallons (205,250 liters), according to a National Response Center database.

When people noticed the discrepancy, Bridger Pipeline spokesperson Bill Salvin stepped in. He claimed the initial figure was based on what company personnel saw on the ground and reported immediately. The volume estimate increased as the site was excavated, according to Salvin.

Bridger Pipeline In Hot Water Over Wyoming Fuel Spill

True and its subsidiary companies own a long list of spills. In May, federal prosecutors in Montana claimed that representatives of Bridger Pipeline concealed problems with a pipeline from regulators. That pipeline ended up breaking beneath the Yellowstone River near the city of Glendive in 2015.

That break spewed more than 50,000 gallons of crude into the river and dirtied Glendive’s drinking water supply.

In North Dakota, federal prosecutors and the state Attorney General’s Office currently pursue concurrent claims of environmental violations against a second True subsidiary. They claim this company is responsible for a 2016 spill that released more than 600,000 gallons of crude. It contaminated the Little Missouri River and a tributary.

The Wyoming fuel spill didn’t seem to reach any waterways. No law enforcement actions for environmental violations were planned, reportedly.

“I’m not saying there wouldn’t be any down the road but for right now there won’t be” any enforcement actions by the state,” Hunter stated. “It’s an older pipeline and it’s one of those things that happen.”

The 6-inch (15 centimeter) diameter steel line was first installed in 1968 by the original owner. Later it became acquired by Bridger Pipeline, Salvin said. It was last inspected in 2019, using a device that travels inside the pipe looking for flaws. He said that no flaws were detected.

“We’re focused on minimizing the environmental impact and we’re going to replace the soil and restore the land as close as possible to its original condition,” Salvin said.