Over the weekend, a leaky pipeline that deposited 50 gallons of oil per minute into the water was discovered by Chevron. The oil spewed into Red Butte Creek in Utah, and before the oil company could cap it, over 21,000 gallons had inundated the waters. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Chevron pledged to clean up the 6-mile mess, but the company could not quantify the damage. As of late Saturday, Chevron said the leak had been stopped. But company representatives could not say when it began, how much oil spilled into city waterways and why — despite pipeline monitors — it apparently took hours to learn of the accident. [...]
By then [just before 8 a.m., when Chevron shut down the pipe], oil had reached Liberty Park’s pond, drenching Canada geese and Mallard ducks. At least 150 birds were rescued from the pond and taken to Hogle Zoo to be cleaned. Some were goslings and chicks as young as a week old. [...]
Depending on amounts, the spill could disrupt the food chain for the long term, killing bottom-dwelling invertebrates that feed fish, said Walt Baker, director of the state Division of Water Quality.
While the damage is far less catastrophic than the BP Gulf spill, this serves as another stark reminder of just how ecologically dangerous off-shore drilling can be. Despite this, Utah governor Gary Herbert–in his energy plan– called for more off-shore drilling four days before this new disaster:
For example, just recently a Utah company partnered with Utah State University’s Energy Dynamics Lab to announce new technology that will purify contaminated water and clear the air during on?shore oil and gas recovery, such as the production in eastern and central Utah. Put in the context of the ongoing off?shore Gulf Coast petroleum disaster, this has even greater significance. One might ask: “Why are we drilling in the middle of the ocean where there is extreme environmental risk when we could be meeting the demand for domestic production from on?shore development in areas with minimal environmental risk such as Utah?”