The Oregon DEQ said Thursday that North Santiam River water samples collected downstream of a tanker crash over the weekend contained “extremely low levels” of fuel, “far below safe drinking water levels.”
Latest water sampling data from the river following the crash and spill shows petroleum-related chemicals are present at levels that decrease with distance downstream from the site, according to a release from DEQ.
The spill happened at about 8 a.m. on Feb. 16, when a double tanker truck carrying gasoline and diesel overturned, releasing an estimated 7,800 gallons of petroleum products into the soil at the crash site.
Cleanup crews have recovered about 2,800 gallons of the spilled fuel. Booms and absorbent material are in place along the riverbank to catch fuel and remove spilled fuel for disposal.
A nearly 30-mile stretch of Hwy 22 remains closed in both directions. ODOT estimates the highway will remain closed until at least Friday night – but most likely until Saturday.
The release continues:
Except for at the crash site, all water samples contained extremely low levels of petroleum-related chemicals, at concentrations far below safe drinking water levels.
Petroleum contaminants in river water that may reach drinking water intakes downstream are expected to remain below regulatory standards. Communities closest to the spill pull drinking water from tributaries to the river and not the North Santiam itself.
The nearest drinking water intake on the North Santiam is 25 miles downstream from the spill site and below Detroit Lake.
The agencies responsible for managing the response continue to monitor the nine surface water sample locations along the river daily. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Space Age Fuel, the owner of the tanker, are working closely with the Oregon Health Authority and downstream water providers to protect drinking water intakes and provide information to water supply systems.
Cleanup crews continue digging up and hauling away petroleum contaminated soil. On Wednesday, the cleanup crews were running 48 dump trucks so excavation and backfilling the roadway with clean soil is progressing quickly.
Crews are working 12-hour shifts to clean up the spill and prevent gasoline and diesel from entering the river.
As of Wednesday, the crews had dug up and hauled away about 2,300 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Dump trucks are taking the contaminated soil to Coffin Butte Landfill near Corvallis.
ODOT and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are assisting with the response. Other involved agencies include the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Department of Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Drone footage courtesy ODOT