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Dalles Dam Oil Spill Tagged at 1,300 Gallons

by CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - January 23, 2004

Federal dam operators and state environmental regulators say the Jan. 15 oil spill at The Dalles Dam resulted in about 1,300 gallons of mineral oil being released into the Columbia River downstream of the dam.

NRC Environmental (formerly Foss Environmental), the company hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to recover that oil, estimate earlier this week that it had recovered more than 600 gallons of oil within the dam project.

In addition, downstream of the dam, more than 4,000 feet of boom has been deployed at the mouths of creeks and streams and in sensitive areas to capture residual oil on the water.

Quantity estimates are not available for downstream recovery efforts, but NRC continues to work at recovering more oil.

The Incident Command Center (ICC), a structure set up to oversee cleanup and recovery efforts following oil spills, remains in place. Representatives from the states of Oregon and Washington environmental agencies, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Corps of Engineers, will continue to oversee the clean up operations.

Also participating in the initial emergency response, were the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wasco-Sherman Public Health Department, NOAA-Fisheries, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and NRC Environmental.

Although there have been no reports of oiled birds or wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife bird line will remain activated through the end of the week. People are advised to report any oiled or injured birds by calling 800-22-BIRDS. On the first day of the spill, 185 dead juvenile shad and one adult shad were found in the dam spill containment. A toxicology report is pending.

On Jan. 15, The Dalles Dam maintenance crews discovered oil from a transformer leaked from a ruptured pipe and spilled mineral oil containing low levels of PCB into the upstream side of the dam and into the powerhouse. Samples show the PCB concentrations in the transformer oil at 8 parts per million (ppm), a level the U.S. EPA considers non-hazardous.

Upon discovering the spill, dam operators began work to contain the spill, notified state and federal authorities, and contacted NRC Environmental to help perform spill recovery operations. NRC arrived at the dam early Thursday afternoon and began work immediately. Washington Department of Ecology officials arrived soon after NRC.

CBB Staff
Dalles Dam Oil Spill Tagged at 1,300 Gallons
Columbia Basin Bulletin, January 23, 2004

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