A tanker truck carrying 12,000 gallons of crude oil on Highway 6 rolled over on July 12, 2018, and released approximately 750-1,000 gallons of crude oil and 100 gallons of diesel into the Price River and spilled approximately 4,000 gallons of crude onto the river banks. The Department of Environmental Quality joined emergency personnel at the scene to contain the spill and protect water quality in the Price River.
Carbon County Emergency Management (CCEM) staff put absorbent booms and pads in place overnight to minimize the spread of crude oil and gasoline. CCEM also contacted the local irrigation company and asked it to divert all possible water to the upstream canals, which lowered the Price River and kept the oil from being flushed farther down the river.
Debris began to clog the diversion diverting water upstream on the morning of July 13, 2018. A five-minute planned water surge to clear the debris, unfortunately, blew out the first containment berm, flushing the crude oil downstream. A new containment berm was hurriedly placed before the oil progressed too far downstream, but by then, three miles of the river were to some extent contaminated by the spill.
The cleanup contractor, Envirocare, arrived early in the morning of July 13, 2018, and focused initially on collecting the crude oil on the bridge where the crash occurred. Thick oil also landed in trees, bushes, rocks, and embankments. The contractor worked with the irrigation company to “flush” the river by opening and closing the floodgates for a five-minute pulse, which pushed the thick oil toward the booms. A late afternoon rainstorm effectively “flushed” the system again, which pushed more crude oil down the river towards the containment boom.
DEQ Division of Water Quality (DWQ) monitoring staff and DEQ’s Southeast Utah District Engineer were on hand to collect samples at four locations in the Price River. The release happened below the drinking water intakes for the Price River Water Improvement District (PRWID) and Price City, so local drinking water was not affected.
On July 14, another tanker accident occurred at the same location and spilled additional gasoline into the river. Absorbent booms and pads were used to soak up as much gasoline as possible. Responders estimate 10-15 gallons of gasoline ended up in the river.
The crude oil formed quarter-size to fist-sized waxy globules scattered along the three-mile stretch of river from the crash site all the way to the downstream containment boom. Since these globules float in the water, some of them were deposited along the banks when the flush water receded. During the afternoon, of July 14, 2018, cleanup concentrated on the removal of oil globules along two river miles. Crews collected forty-three bags of oil and debris during this “rough-cleaning,” with each bag weighing approximately 15-20 pounds each.
Heavy debris from a flash flood from the Gordon Creek drainage on the evening of July 14, 2018, took out the containment booms. An additional boom was put in place above Wellington to get ahead of the flood. However, before the booms were taken out by the flash flood, it’s estimated that crews had cleaned up two-thirds of the oil spilled into the river.
DEQ will continue to update the public on the situation, including the results of water-quality tests from samples taken by DEQ in the Price River following the spill.