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Contractor Cleaning Up Oil Spill at The Dalles Dam

Eric Mortenson
The Oregonian, December 24, 2009

A contractor hired to clean up an oil spill at The Dalles Dam expected to have the site stabilized today, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman said.

Workers discovered Wednesday that an estimated 3,250 gallons of light, mineral-type oil had leaked from a spare transformer. Most of the oil, which did not contain cancer-causing PCBs, soaked into the ground. However, a small amount seeped into the dam's ice and trash sluiceway through drainage holes, spokesman Scott Clemans said.

He said a "light sheen" was visible in the sluiceway near the dam, but termed it as "not a significant amount." The contractor was removing oil-soaked dirt and blocking off the oil's route to the Columbia River, Clemans said.

Clemans said a valve failed on the transformer, allowing the oil to leak. Inspectors don't yet know why the valve failed and are checking other transformers that have similar valves. The transformer, with an oil capacity of 6,500 gallons, was stored in a facility designed to contain spills, but that system also failed and is being investigated, Clemans said.

The Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Washington Department of Ecology sent emergency response teams to the dam after the leak was discovered.

Eric Mortenson
Contractor Cleaning Up Oil Spill at The Dalles Dam
The Oregonian, December 24, 2009

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