Oil sheen contained in Talbert Channel near site of last year’s major O.C. pipeline spill has grown to the size of a football field, while a second, as yet unnamed pipeline is slowly running toward the mouth of the channel, exposing an area about three times larger than the original spill.
The two pipelines, which the Department of Natural Resources says began flowing on May 26, have been slowing down since last week, when one of them ran 2 miles per hour down the channel, according to the DNR. The DNR says the pipeline will be “mature enough to be removed” by the end of the month.
A second pipeline, according to the DNR, started flowing on Tuesday near West Point, Minn., and is expected to arrive at the mouth of Talbert Channel by Sept. 27.
Officials in the DNR now say the pipelines are still leaking into Talbert Channel, and are working to determine exactly how much damage the pipelines are causing to its wetlands, the state’s largest wetlands. Officials have not yet determined how much the pipelines are contaminating the water.
The Talbert Channel was also the site of last year’s massive pipeline spill, which affected hundreds of farms and threatened the drinking supply for more than 1.3 million people. The pipeline released up to 8.7 million gallons of hazardous fluids — including radioactive materials and crude oil — into the Mississippi River in southwestern Minnesota.
Last year’s pipeline spill was the nation’s largest on record. It was caused by a leak from an oil line at a refinery in St. Paul, and caused the release of approximately 8.7 million gallons of crude oil and other hazardous fluids into the river.
The pipeline that leaked last year was owned by a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, which had operated the refinery.
Last week, the DNR announced that it had found a “high level” of oil in a segment of the river, as part of their ongoing effort to find out how the oil may have contaminated the river water. If the oil comes from the pipeline, it poses no known risks to people at this time, the DNR said.