Leak cleanup continues
The fitting has been replaced, inspected, and the pipeline is back in operation.
The contaminated soil from around the seep has been dug out and taken to an approved treatment facility.
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
Original post November 10, 2014 | Updated November 23, 2014
Editor' Note, Nov. 23, 2014 We've updated this story with a link to a story by the Casper Star-Tribune that has additional information. - Dawn Ballou, Editor, Pinedale Online!
Original post, 11/10/14
On Sunday, October 26th, a leak was reported seeping up from an underground pipeline corridor on the Mesa approximately two miles southwest of Pinedale. The leak was discovered by a recreationist in the area who reported it to the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office. Sublette County Emergency Management and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) responded and it was determined that the leak was from a pressurized produced water pipeline owned by QEP Field Services (QEPFS), a natural gas gathering company with facilities in the area. The leak was a slow weeping of water coming up out of the ground surface originating from a pipe that was about eight feet below ground level. The pipeline was immediately shut down, isolated and depressured. QEPFS immediately engaged operations and management personnel to respond on containment, repair, and cleanup of the site. There were no injuries from the incident.
QEPFS operates numerous natural gas wells and facilities in the area as part of leases on BLM-managed public land. The company has been working closely with the Pinedale Field Office of the BLM, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and professional containment and emergency response crews on the cleanup since the leak was discovered.
Once the ground around the pipe was opened up, it was determined that a pipe fitting joining two sections of the pipeline had a small hole that caused a leak. The pipe carries produced water from a nearby QEPFS gathering facility and transports the water to Anticline Disposal, which further treats and disposes of the water. Produced water is an end product that is separated out of natural gas pumped from nearby wells. The bulk of the product carried through the pipeline is non-potable water that contains small amounts of hydrocarbons. The pipeline itself and interior liner were not damaged at all. QEPFS replaced the faulty fitting in the pipe and the line is back in operation.
It is unknown when the leak began. The spill crept a little over a mile down the draw by the time it was discovered. The pressurized pipes do have monitoring equipment on them, but the drop in pressure was so minimal from this leak it wasn’t detected by the equipment.
As of the time of this article, a little over two weeks after the incident, QEPFS is continuing to work on remediation of the site and surrounding area. Initial response was to stop and contain the leak. Remediation has involved removing contaminated soil where the leak flowed and installing containment and absorption features to filter future surface water runoff. The contaminated surface soil has been hauled away to a disposal facility in LaBarge. Many booms containing special absorbing material have been placed in a nearby draw to trap sediment and product that might flow through during a storm event. Three weep dams have also been installed further down in the draw to pond flow and recover any additional residue. These defensive measures are in place to protect wildlife and fish habitat by preventing residual surface contaminants from migrating into downstream waterways during run-off events. Samples of the soil and water have been sent away for testing.
The pipeline corridor right of way is used and shared by several natural gas companies to run their buried pipelines to transport the products from their operations. The pipeline corridor is located across dry, high desert rolling hills with sparse sagebrush vegetation. Deer and antelope inhabit the general area, as well as a variety of smaller animals. In the spring, the area is used by cattle for grazing. The Green River is approximately 2-1/2 miles away. There is no close by private land or residential habitations.
Runoff from the area where the leak occurred flows into Tyler Draw which is dry most of the year and typically only carries brief low flows from spring snow melt and runoff during short-term heavy rain showers.
QEPFS personnel have been visiting the site daily to identify and address any concerns or foreseeable impacts to the environment, soils, ground and surface water, vegetation, wildlife, cattle grazing, or human use of the area. Archaeologists have visited the site to inspect for any cultural resources that might be impacted by digging or driving over the terrain during the rehab work.
Inquiries to the BLM about the incident were redirected back to the operator. QEPFS company representatives on the ground and from management quickly responded to our media inquiries and fully answered all questions asked of them.
"QEPFS works to safely, efficiently and responsibly develop its assets while meeting or exceeding environmental regulations and other standards that the company voluntarily adopts. Accordingly, we are working with the BLM, WDEQ and Professional Consultants to reclaim the area affected by the pipeline leak and prevent impact to the environment," said Brent Rockwood, Director of Communications for QEP Resources Inc.
Anyone with questions or concerns can contact Rockwood at 303-672-6999 (office) or via email Brent.Rockwood@qepres.com.
Photos by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online, Pinedale Online, taken November 6, 2014.