Oil spill prompts massive excavation, cleanup effort
Costs arising from a hazardous materials spill in Indian Canyon could top the six figure mark, according to Carbon County Emergency Management Director Jason Llewelyn. And HAZMAT crews have been working overtime all month following a tanker tip-over that required a large amount of soil to be excavated and reclaimed.
The spill which took place at mile marker 228 near Emma Park Road was initially reported to have spilled 13,000 gallons into a nearby stream. However, since the accident that number has been set at closer to 25,000 gallons which entered a tributary near the Price River, said Llewelyn during an July 9 Carbon County Commissioner's meeting.
The first clean-up crew to arrive on scene was unable to handle the size of the cleanup and Lincoln Engineering was then called in to work the reclamation, he said.
"It really is an immense amount of work that these guys have done," said Llewelyn. "They have been really good neighbors to us through this whole ordeal."
Although neither the name of the company or the driver was divulged at the meeting, Llewelyn did report that the driver was sighted for excessive speed.
The cost of the spill as of the date of the meeting had topped $138,000, he said.
"The health department and the environmental protection agency are continuing to soil sample in the area as we have already removed enough soil to fill a 25 foot by 75 foot hole that is ten feet deep," said Llewelyn.
The material has been transported to the Emery County Landfill as it is one of of the only class four landfills in the area.
The tanker spilled a mixture of drilling fluid that included diesel fuel, oil and mud, he said.
The mixture totally contaminated the soil.
"It has been unreal," said Llewelyn. "We are still getting oil into the soil now."
As the project continued to levy costs, Llewelyn had a warning for the county commissioners.
"This type of spill is moving our way," said the emergency director. "Duchesne and Vernal let us know this is coming to Carbon County if our energy production continues to grow. Their HAZMAT teams are reporting that they see this type of spill frequently. They see at least a 500 gallon spill everyday."
According to the emergency director, the HAZMAT team is spread thin
The costs associated with the cleanup will not end anytime soon as the monitoring process has only begun.
"We will have to monitor this area for at least the next five years," said Llewelyn. "And that is going to continue to increase the cost of this operation."
While Carbon County has picked up the tab for the cleanup initially, local offcials will be billing the trucking company's insurance provider in full for the total cost.
"We expect to be fully reimbursed," pointed out Carbon Commissioner Bill Krompel. "I hope they are responsible and there is no issue."
Krompel did not, however, see the problem increasing as quickly as Llewelyn projects.
"The Uintah Basin is responsible for 75 percent of the state's oil and gas," said Krompel. "Even though we are first in coal production and second in oil and gas we are a far second and I don't see us ever reaching their production."
The commissioner indicated that the county would increase the HAZMAT team as work continues to expand, but had hopes that better safety training will lead to less spills and incidents in the future.
"I have been impressed with Conoco-Phillips and Anadarko," said the commissioner. "They seem to make safety their highest priority and I believe that is the best way to minimize these types of problems. This latest spill could have been prevented and as education and safety programs continue I think we are going to see less incidents of this nature."