Update: Texas Pipeline Rupture Spills 500,000 gallons of gasoline

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Massive Fuel Spill Local News 03/10/00

Crews continue to clean up a mess in North Texas after a 28 inch gas pipeline ruptured overnight spilling about half a million gallons of gasoline into a wheat field near Greenville.

The pipeline reportedly belongs to the Oklahoma based Explorer Pipeline Company.

Fuel leaked into the East Caddo Creek.. but authorities were able to contain it with booms.

Authorities say the spill is under control and not considered a threat beyond the immediate site.

What caused the leak is still being investigated...

Cleanup will take at least a week.


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), March 10, 2000


Associated Press Texas Wire News Crews to work through the night to clean up half-million gallon fuel spill

CADDO MILLS, Texas (AP) - Crews worked through the night in a muddy wheat field and waded through a gasoline-filled creek to clean up a massive East Texas pipeline leak.

A thunderstorm bore down on federal and state environmental officials who worked to clean up about 500,000 gallons of gasoline Friday from a pipeline that burst the day before.

``It is just too flammable, we need to get it up as quickly as possible,'' said Greg Fife, on-scene coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Monitors with Tulsa, Okla.-based Explorer Pipeline Co., owner and operator of the pipeline, noticed a sharp drop in pressure about 11 p.m. Thursday. The pipeline was sealed off remotely and officials with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission said crews had the leak under control by 9 a.m.

Authorities said they did not know what caused the break in the pipe, which is buried 4 feet under ground. Caddo Mills is 40 miles northeast of Dallas.

``It blew a hole through a pipe. We were not shutting down or starting up. We hadn't opened or closed a valve, we were just pumping,'' said Scott Van Dyke, president of Explorer Pipeline.

Fife said the break appeared to be caused by a mechanical failure that may have been created by the shrink and swell of the surrounding soil.

The break occurred in a section of the company's pumping system that runs from Tulsa, Okla., to Port Arthur.

The pipeline was built in 1973 and last tested in 1997 by running a sensor that measures the thickness the pipe walls through the pipeline Van Dyke said.

Van Dyke said he did not know the results of the test. He also said the pipeline had been worked on recently, but did not know the details.

Workers with the National Transportation Safety Board were on their way to the site Friday to investigate the rupture, Fife said.

The heavy rain washed the gasoline into Caddo Creek, making the cleanup easier, but also longer. Workers dammed off a two-mile stretch of the creek to contain the mix of gasoline and rainwater.

``It kind of sped things up ... if the weather holds like this we've got it good,'' Fife said.

The cleanup equipment includes mechanical pumps that vacuum the fuel into tanker trucks, and booms, which are physical barriers that float on the water and help contain the spill.

Fife said he expected workers to finish cleaning up any standing gasoline by tomorrow evening, while removing contaminated soil and testing for groundwater contamination could take up to a week.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 11, 2000.

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