DESERT, Texas - Crews are still cleaning up after a major oil pipeline was struck and spilled oil across a highway in the small Collin County town of Desert, forcing the pipeline to shut down temporarily and affect oil prices worldwide.
A TxDOT construction crew hit the pipe located northeast of Melissa on Monday.
The pipe is part of a major pipeline that pumps 400,000 barrels of oil a day from Cushing, Oklahoma to the refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. And according to financial analysts at the Wall Street Journal, its shutdown due to the rupture is driving oil prices higher.
A passing driver took video of the gushing oil Monday around 3:30 p.m. TxDOT says a sub contractor's bulldozer involved in a project to widen the road punctured the pipeline.
Brittany Clayton works at a gas station across the road.
"You could just smell this oil smell. A customer walks in and says ‘nobody smoke.'” You could see it just spewing,” she recalled. “It was just super huge. It was like a big cloud. The fire marshal said, ‘This is like a danger zone. You guys have to evacuate immediately.’ I was totally freaked out. I kept texting the boss man.”
The view from SKY 4 showed the span of the spill on the south side of State Highway 121 just west of Highway 160 in Northeast Collin County. The oil sprayed and spilled onto a farm field along the highway. There were large pools of light crude oil. Cleanup is now underway.
A man who identified himself as an employee of Enterprise Products, joint owner of the pipeline, barred people from crossing to the south side of the highway.
A Houston spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that barriers and other safeguards are in place that should prevent ruptures, and an investigation is underway.
A TxDOT spokesman said he's been told 4,000 barrels spilled before the line could be shut off.
Jesse Puente, an activist concerned about pipeline safety, did get to the south side of the road where he says he found pools of oil and water.
"I was able to stick my hand inside that water. And my hands had so much oil on them, I had to take pictures of that,” he said. “I'm not against oil. Maybe someday we can get away from fossil fuels. But until that day comes, we have to be the most safest guards we can on these lines.”
The cleanup is expected to last at least one more day or even longer. TxDOT and the EPA will be doing water and environmental testing in the days to come.