GRAND COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Crews are working to clean up an oil spill, Thursday, after it rushed into the Green River.
Between 80 and 100 barrels per hour—that is how fast an oil/water mixture rushed from a damaged SW Energy well. Parts of the mixture rolled down into the
According to the Bureau of Land Management, nobody knows exactly how much of that oil went into the
A concerned hiker noticed an oily sheen on the
"That clearly indicates that there was a lot of oil, because it had 30 miles to disperse, and it still didn’t do so. We could be talking about tens of thousands of gallons of oil,” explained Zach Frankel, Executive Director of the Utah River Council.
Frankel says that this spill is dangerous and that nobody should be taking it lightly.
"The Green River provides water for millions of people downstream in the cities of
The Bureau of Land Management learned of the original leak Wednesday. They built back-up berms to contain the spill and issued a press release saying it was taken care of the very next day. By Saturday, the BLM's structures had already given out.
"They did have some very significant storms down there on Friday night into the weekend. We had measures in place…We had those underflow structures, absorbent models—all of those were in place—but that storm event was very significant,” said Megan Crandall, spokesperson for the BLM.
Frankel says that is no excuse.
"They didn't build the containment facilities large enough to withstand a storm event. They didn't even think about what would happen when it rained," he explained.
Another concern is that no one yet knows how contaminated the river really is. The BLM sampled only the area where the oil entered.
"We are committed to responsible development. Part of that is going to be assessing the damage moving forward, and we may end up going down the river to take some of the samples," responded Crandall.
BLM officials could not say when they plan to go downstream and take the samples, but they said they will let ABC 4 Utah know if and when they do.