No gas in river samples; no word on Hwy. 22E reopening

IDANHA, Ore. - A more thorough review of samples taken at drinking water intakes downstream of the site of last weekend's deadly semi-tanker crash along the North Santiam River supported preliminary results that didn't detect the presence of gasoline, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said Wednesday evening.

On Sunday and again on Monday, responders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took water samples at drinking water intakes for Lyons/Mehama, Stayton, Gates and Salem. EPA and the  DEQ provided test results to Oregon Health Authority's Drinking Water Program, which worked with water service providers to decide when to return to using river water. By Wednesday afternoon, all four water service providers had turned their intakes back on.

Surface water samples downstream from the site also showed little or no sign of gasoline contamination, with a trace amount of benzene, a gasoline component, detected in surface water inside a boomed area at the spill site, according to reviewed data.

Backfilling and other work on the site continues. More than 350 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed along Oregon Highway 22E. Booms are deployed on the river adjacent to the spill to try and help prevent residual gasoline from migrating downstream.

EPA technicians conducted a final round of water sampling Wednesday. DEQ will also work with contractors for the Bend trucking company, Central Petro, to ensure a long-term river water monitoring plan is soon place.

The highway in the Santiam Canyon remains closed between milepost 55 at the east end of Idanha to the Santiam Junction where Oregon 22 and U.S. 20 intersects. Drivers can go to the Oregon Department of Transportation's TripCheck for updates on OR 22.

The crash, which occurred late Friday night, killed Ronald Scurlock of Redmond. The tanker was carrying an estimated 11,600 gallons of gasoline. It is unknown how much 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 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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