DEQ: Little sign of gas in N. Santiam River

Cleanup, monitoring in wake of fuel tanker crash

DETROIT, Ore. - Response efforts continue at the site of a fatal tanker crash near Detroit as contaminated soil excavation wraps up, groundwater monitoring wells are installed and preliminary results from surface water sampling show negligible levels of gasoline or petroleum byproducts, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said late Tuesday.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency technicians took surface water samples from the North Santiam River and Detroit Lake on Sunday. They also took water samples at drinking water intakes for Lyons/Mehama, Stayton, Gates and Salem on Sunday and Monday. Preliminary data from the Sunday samples showed no presence of gasoline. Reviewed data is expected to be made available later in the week. An additional round of drinking water intake sampling by EPA is scheduled on Wednesday.

"DEQ and EPA feel that based on the cleanup conducted to date, their observations at the site and downstream, and sampling results, water quality should continue to improve," the DEQ update said.

EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are providing test results to Oregon Health Authority's Drinking Water Program, which will work with water service providers on deciding when to return to using river water.

The city of Salem has indicated it will continue to use backup drinking water supplies from groundwater and reservoir sources until it reviews the results of sampling data collected on Monday.

Surface water samples downstream from the site also showed little or no sign of gasoline contamination, with a trace amount of benzene (9 parts per billion), a gasoline component, detected in surface water inside a boomed area at the spill site. Booms are deployed on the river adjacent to the spill to help prevent gasoline from leaving the river bank and migrating downstream.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife are evaluating how the spill may have affected fish and other wildlife in the vicinity.

DEQ said it will evaluate what additional cleanup techniques can be used to remove additional contamination from the bank and roadbed.

OR Highway 22 in the Santiam Canyon remains closed between milepost 55 at the east end of Idanha to the Santiam Junction, where OR 22 and U.S. 20 intersect. ODOT has a contractor working on repairs to the road. About 300 feet of roadway was impacted by the crash.

Drivers should use established detours and avoid remote back roads which can be treacherous, particularly during snow and ice.

ODOT recommends using U.S. 20 as an alternate route for small vehicles traveling between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon. ODOT recommends that large trucks use OR 126 McKenzie Highway through Springfield, OR 58 Willamette Highway or U.S. 26.

Drivers can go to ODOT's TripCheck for updates on OR 22.

The crash, which occurred late Friday night, resulted in the death of Ronald Scurlock of Redmond. The tanker was carrying an estimated 11,600 gallons of gasoline. It is unknown how much of the gasoline burned in the ensuing fire and how much spilled into the soil and made its way to the river.

DEQ is coordinating on the response with EPA, ODOT, Salem, the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Police, Oregon State Fire Marshal, Linn County Sheriff's Office, Linn and Marion counties, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, The Confederated Tribes of the Siletz, The Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde and The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs tribes, and others.

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