Oil and gas truck crashes into creek near Rifle
A large diesel truck that ended up in the Beaver Creek south of Rifle after working on oil and gas infrastructure Monday did not contaminate the city’s municipal water system, officials said.
In total, less than 10 gallons of oil and hydraulic fluid spilled from the truck, which was removed from the creek around 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to Chris Bornholdt, emergency manager with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident led the city to shutdown its intake system for the Beaver Creek water treatment plant — one of two treatment plants that supply potable water to Rifle customers. The shutdown impacted 13 water users who pull raw water off the line that feeds the Beaver Creek plant.
The reaction is standard procedure anytime there is a potential impact within a watershed, said Robert Burns, operations manager for the city of Rifle utility department. Monitoring conducted at multiple locations did not reveal any contamination, he added.
The city’s intake system remained off Thursday as cleanup crews hired by the trucking company, Cameron International, a company specializing in pressure control technologies for the oil and gas industry, continued the cleanup process on soil and vegetation.
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The vehicle, described in a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office press release as a large diesel truck with equipment mounted to a flatbed, was driving down Garfield County Road 317 around 5 p.m. Monday.
The vehicle was being used for conducting pressure testing associated with oil and gas infrastructure, according to a spill report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The area is populated with producing natural gas wells.
Another vehicle was approaching the truck when the driver attempted to move over toward the shoulder, Bornholdt said. The truck got too close to the edge of the road and went over.
Officials estimated the truck rolled approximately 1 ¼ times before coming to a rest. The driver sustained minor injuries.
Excessive speed, a frequent complaint raised during Garfield County Energy Advisory Board meetings, was not a factor in this incident.
“That was not the case,” Bornholdt said, adding the truck was going no more than 5 mph.
Tom VonDette, a rancher who serves as the resident representation for the Taughenbaugh Mesa area on the energy advisory board, said he was still unsure of many of the details Thursday.
Although he was one of the 13 users whose raw water access was cut off, the impact was minimal because VonDette has a nearby well that he could pull water from for his cattle. Some of the others did not have that luxury and were more irritated, he said, adding that the notification process could have been better.
Burns said Cameron, the company whose truck went into the creek, made arrangements to supply water to the impacted users.
Bornholdt, who credited Cameron and the cleanup company for taking the initiative in the matter, said the situation could have been worse. Oil and hydraulic fluid are relatively light fluids compared to diesel fuel, which would have sunk into the soils much quicker — complicating cleanup efforts.
He said he expected the cleanup operation to wrap up Friday afternoon.
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