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News Blog

Salt Lake City Oil Spill Q & A

by Jerre Wroble
- Posted // 2010-06-12 -

The 4 p.m. June 12 update on the Chevron pipeline oil spill from Lara Jones with the Salt Lake City Police Department:

When did the Oil Spill begin?

Chevron has determined the pipeline fractured underground on the south side of Red Butte Creek at approximately 10 p.m.

Were any alarms triggered?*

Chevron reported receiving high- and low-pressure alarms Friday evening.

When was SLC police/fire notified?

At approximately 6:51 a.m., SLC Police/Fire were dispatched on a complaint of petroleum odors from the Veterans Administration (VA) facility at 500 Foothill Drive. This led to the discovery of significant crude oil in Red Butte Creek.

How many gallons are leaking?

At the start, 50-60 gallons per minute. By 11:20 a.m., 20-25 gallons per minute as the pipe was shut off farther up the line. However, according to Chevron executives, they are capturing crude at Red Butte Creek. They say it will take several hours for residual crude in the line to stop flowing.

See: More Salt Lake City Oil Spill Photos (brace yourself)

What was in the pipeline?

Crude Oil.

What actions were taken on scene once the leak was found?

Big D Construction company was on scene at a nearby construction project and was asked to assist. They used a large backhoe to dig several temporary containment ponds. A Chevron vacuum truck is on site and pumping from these ponds, transporting the crude to the local Chevron refinery, 2351 N. 1100 W., Salt Lake City.

What notifications have been made to the public?

In addition to public information releases from the Salt Lake City Joint Information Center, a Wide Area Notification alert was issued at 11:10 a.m. to the area two blocks on either side of Red Butte Creek from the Gardens down to Liberty Park, as well as a one-block area around Liberty Park. Liberty Park was officially closed to pedestrians and motorists at 10 a.m.

Read: Oil Spill in Red Butte Canyon

What health concerns are there?

Due to a storm front, wind dissipated fumes during the morning and active hours of the leak. However, residual fumes may be collecting. Fire hazmat crews have not seen high toxicity levels in the air, however, they are monitoring with gas leak meters for toxicity levels. Residents should be concerned about closed environments with no airflow, especially in regard to elderly people or shut-ins. Residents should only call 911 if they are exhibiting symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness, and severe headaches.

Have there been any evacuations?

Building 590 at the V.A. was evacuated. It is an office building. No patient services occur in this building.

Are there any explosive or fire concerns?

Not at this time. Hazmat crews are patrolling affected areas with gas meters to monitor the situation. Due to the storm front blowing through this morning, wind has dissipated much of the fumes.

What first-responder agencies are involved?

SLC Police, SLC Fire, Unified Fire, Metro Fire, West Valley City Fire, South Salt Lake Fire and Midvale Fire are all involved in response and containment.

How have animals been impacted?

Hogle Zoo has transported approximately 100 waterfowl from Liberty Park to the zoo’s animal hospital for treatment. The zoo is not accepting household pets at this time. While common dishwashing soap can be used to clean pets, the zoo advises petowners to call their veterinarian for treatment and cleaning recommendations.

Has drinking water been compromised?

No. Drinking water is safe.

Health concerns:

Crude oil is an irritant to both people and animals. Avoid contact. However, if contact occurs, clean with mild detergent, such as Dawn dish liquid, and water. Residents should contact their doctors and/or veterinarians as well.

* A June 12 9:38 p.m. update from the Salt Lake City Joint Information Center added information to the above facts:

When was SLC police/fire notified?

At approximately 6:51 a.m. Saturday, June 12, 2010, SLC Police/Fire was dispatched on a complaint of petroleum odors on the grounds of the Veteran’s Administration (V.A.) facility at 500 Foothill Drive. This led to the discovery of significant crude oil in Red Butte Creek, which runs through the V.A. property.

When did the oil spill begin? [Editor's note: Chevron disputes that its high- and low-pressure alarms were set off on Friday night (which Salt Lake City officials originally claimed). Chevron reports that the only alarm that was triggered was set off by a power failure in the University of Utah area on Friday around 10 p.m., notifying them that a pipeline sensor lost power]

At approximately 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 12, 2010, Chevron was alerted by the SLC Fire Department. Chevron reviewed its logs and noticed a peculiarity at approximately 10 p.m. Friday, June 11, 2010. Whether the aberration signaled the start of the leak is undetermined at this point.

How many gallons have leaked into the creek?

Based on a 10 p.m. June 11, 2010, starting time, the pipe’s 10-inch diameter and length to containment at Liberty Park, Chevron has estimated that more than 500 barrels of crude oil leaked into Red Butte Creek. While the leak originally flowed at 50-60 gallons per minute, it was down to 2-3 gallons at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 12, 2010. Chevron reported Saturday afternoon that it had shut off the pipeline 7-10 miles east of the estimated fracture point.


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