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gunns
06-12-2010, 09:49 PM
This has hit home. It's unbelievable and deplorable. And it has reached the Great Salt Lake.



A leak from Chevron's underground oil pipeline may have gone undetected for hours as it spilled 50 gallons of crude a minute Saturday into Salt Lake City's Red Butte Creek.

The oil blackened the east-side creek, stained scores of birds, prompted the closure of Liberty Park and sent oil as far west as the Jordan River.

"This is extremely harmful," said disgusted resident Peter G. Hayes, a biology teacher who showed oily rocks from his creek-side home to Chevron officials at Liberty Park. "I want to know when are you going to send someone to my backyard and clean up my mess because I can't even live in my house because of the smell."

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.

Cleanup crews planned to work throughout the night.

Neighbors near Liberty Park -- more than 3 miles from the source near Red Butte Garden -- said they noticed an odor about 4 a.m., said Chevron spokesman Mark Sullivan.

The spill first was reported about 6:45 a.m. by staff at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Scott Freitag. It was flowing 30 to 40 feet downhill into the creek from the ground above a buried pipeline just south of Red Butte Garden, near the greenhouses and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

About 50 gallons of oil a minute were flowing from the pipeline when responders arrived, Freitag said. A nearby construction crew was flagged down to help build makeshift dams and dikes near the source, reducing the flow to 20 to 25 gallons a minute by midmorning, Freitag said.

Sullivan said Chevron shut down the pipeline just before 8 a.m. after the Fire Department notified the company of the spill.

By then, 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.

Birds were cleaned up to three times in "kiddie pools" with water and Dawn dish soap, said Nancy Carpenter, director of the zoo's animal health services. The birds will be released at a new location by state wildlife workers.

"Most of the birds are doing pretty well," she said. "It's quite an amazing thing to see so many birds in one place and then to have them oiled like this."

Oil streamed from Liberty Park into the Jordan River. It was spotted as far north as 500 South, Freitag said.

"It's a tragedy. It is horrible." said J.T. Martin, chairman of the Salt Lake City Council. "The whole river corridor is contaminated. It is a major catastrophe for this area and for the city."

State water quality scientists were taking samples to determine oil concentrations. 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.

For the short term, birds may be in even more trouble, he warned. "If they are covered with oil, they cannot fly and cannot float, so you may even have birds drown."

Thomas Kurrus, who lives on Yale Avenue along the creek, rescued his pet African goose Ernie on Saturday morning.

"He and I spent 20 minutes in the bathtub with Dawn detergent," Kurrus said. "This stuff is unbelievably messy."

Ernie was squeaky clean and squawking loudly Saturday afternoon, itching to get back in the creek but blocked by Kurrus' garden fence. His mate, Chloe, had stuck to the nest and avoided the oil.

"It amazes me," Kurrus said, "that they run a pipeline across a major waterway without some kind of protection."

Kurrus, 69, also helped a neighbor rescue trout from a backyard pond. He wondered how the spill would affect vegetation and 100-year-old trees along the creek.

"It just brings home the unbelievability of what's going on in the Gulf of Mexico," he said.

Sullivan, who also lives along the creek, said cleanup "may take some weeks; it may take a month."

"Chevron is taking full responsibility ... for any financial damage, environmental damage, safety concerns, impacts on health ... and cleanup."

Gases from the crude oil did not reach concentrations Saturday that would pose a health risk, but fumes could be collecting, according to a news release from the Salt Lake City Police Department. Fire crews were monitoring toxicity levels.

Symptoms of exposure include difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness and severe headaches. Anyone exhibiting those symptoms and at risk of exposure were advised to call 911. Royal DeLegge, Salt Lake Valley Health Department's environmental health director, said people with respiratory problems should avoid inhaling fumes from the spill.

Red Butte Creek does not flow into any drinking supply, but DeLegge warned residents not to allow children or animals to ingest contaminated stream or river water. Pet owners were asked to contact their veterinarians if animals are exposed to the oil.

Crews had positioned absorbent booms throughout the contamination path and, as a precautionary measure, on the Jordan River as far north as the Utah Fairpark, said Jeff Niermeyer, the city's director of public utilities.

"We do not want it to get into the Great Salt Lake," Freitag said. There, the lack of a current could allow oil to accumulate and affect even larger bird populations at the world-class flyway. However, he said, the oil appear to be stopped in the Jordan River.

River activist Jeff Salt planned to check out the Jordan River on Saturday night.

"What happens with the Jordan River that's of concern is the water feeds into the duck clubs and to Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area," he said. "Hopefully, there are preventive measures being installed at the key locations along the Jordan River to contain the oil before we get to the wildlife areas."

Residents were urged to avoid affected areas of the Jordan River, while Liberty Park and Red Butte Creek were expected to remain closed at least through today.

Red Butte Garden remained open to visitors, said Dianne Crosby, the botanical attraction's assistant director of visitor services, Freitag said, but there was no known risk of fire or explosions from the spill.

Freitag credited Big D Construction -- the crews who rushed to erect the dams and dikes in the early morning -- with providing "critical" aid in the spill.

"They were able to contain a lot of it," Freitag said. "This would have been much worse."

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker jetted back to Salt Lake City from a mayors conference Saturday in Oklahoma City to address the spill.

"We will get to the bottom of how this happened," Becker vowed. "And we will address necessary measures to make sure the community continues to be protected in the future. We are not going to rest until we see the cleanup complete. We will obviously work with Chevron but we're not going to leave this to Chevron."

Los Broncos
06-12-2010, 09:54 PM
50 gallons a minute? that is horrible, hopefully is doesn't get any worse.

Archer81
06-12-2010, 10:41 PM
That's horrible for SLC.

The tone of the article is a little ridiculous though. Did common sense take a vacation and not let anyone know? How do you buy property along that creek and not be aware a pipeline is nearby? Or that a spill could potentially happen? Stop crying about it and clean it up. We all know its terrible but come on now. Spend more time bitching about spilling oil then actually 1. stopping it in the case of the gulf or 2. cleaning it up (in the case of SLC and the Gulf).

:Broncos:

watermock
06-12-2010, 11:03 PM
"Drop in the bucket!".

gunns
06-12-2010, 11:17 PM
They've said they are worried about people just cleaning it up, not knowing what products to use that are environmentally sound. Ironic. Hopefully there will be communication for those that make the effort to begin the cleaning. Many close to these spills are relocating for the night at least because of the smell.

Killericon
06-12-2010, 11:41 PM
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/media/ALeqM5h3gYTsRlABmUz2K5MeVrNW9qgflw?size=l

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/media/ALeqM5h8o4LiZC1WZMVO6ZSgRFHMiagONQ?size=l

gunns
06-13-2010, 08:42 AM
That's horrible for SLC.

The tone of the article is a little ridiculous though. Did common sense take a vacation and not let anyone know? How do you buy property along that creek and not be aware a pipeline is nearby? Or that a spill could potentially happen? Stop crying about it and clean it up. We all know its terrible but come on now. Spend more time b****ing about spilling oil then actually 1. stopping it in the case of the gulf or 2. cleaning it up (in the case of SLC and the Gulf).

:Broncos:

This isn't a matter of buying property where you don't know that an underground pipeline is nearby. Many of the people and animals affected are a considerable distance from where this pipeline break happened. The Jordan River is a lengthy river way that goes to the Great Salt Lake. You don't have to worry about Utah people getting this cleaned up. A lot are already on top of it but are finding it is a much bigger job than just a clean up.