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Cost of Willow Creek cleanup at $1 million

Sun Advocate associate editor

The environmental aftermath of a tragic truck accident in Willow Creek Canyon last month seems likely to cost more than $1 million, according to Jason Llewelyn, the county's emergency services and homeland security director.

Llewelyn told county commissioners last Wednesday that that the cost of remediating the damage from spilled crude oil had already been tallied at $995,995. He later said the cost is likely to go higher when other expenses are factored in.

The spill occurred Sept. 15 when a tandem oil tank truck left the road, plunged over the steep cliff of the creek and exploded in flame. The driver was killed in the wreck and the cargo poured into the creek.

Inflatable booms were spread along the stream to halt the flow of crude and a crew from EnviroCare of Salt Lake had arrived on scene before midnight.

The effort was augmented by teams brought in from Louisiana and Georgia, Lllewelyn said in an interview Thursday. "These are people who have had experience with the Gulf spill," he noted.

The crew size has varied between 25 and 50 members.

Steep, rocky terrain and bad weather have complicated the work. The goo has infiltrated crevices between the rocks and coated streamside plants. That has necessitated a lot of cleaning by hand.

Llewelyn estimated that some 60,000 pounds of sludge had been removed. Once the stream is cleaned to standards, another year of monitoring is mandatory.

Foreland Refining, the truck owner, is responsible for the cost. Llewelyn said the company has been cooperative and supportive of the effort.

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