A 7,500-gallon storage tank of crude oil has completely drained into the scenic Cache La Poudre, Colorado's only designated National Wild and Scenic River, southeast of Fort Collins.
Vegetation was covered by an oil slick a quarter-mile downstream, but authorities claim “no drinking water intakes have been affected.”
The environmental disaster occurred at Noble Energy facility near Windsor in northern Colorado, in imminent proximity to the popular Poudre River Trail, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) reported late Friday afternoon.
Spring floods caved in the riverbank with a sat storage tank containing 178 barrels (roughly 7,500 gallons or over 28 tons) of crude oil. As a result the tank dropped from its foundation and broke a discharge valve, so all of the oil inside just flowed out right into the river, polluting the water and vegetation several hundred meters downstream.
A statement issued by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources maintained that no drinking water intakes have been affected by the spill, said Todd Hartman, a representative of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
“The release is not ongoing,” he said, adding that the well near the tank has been shut in.
A similar tank next to the damaged one remained intact.
The operator of the oil storage facility reported the incident to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and State Department of Public Health and Environment.
A combined response team from these organizations and Noble Energy have been deployed to the area.
The clean-up crew deployed skimming absorbent material everywhere oil could be seen and used a vacuum truck to remove oil-contaminated water from the low area around the tank.