Utah DEQ News

Price River Oil Spill

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.


Emergency crews set up absorbent booms to trap oil before it heads downstream.

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.


Booms contain oil and debris. Click for larger view.

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.


Oil globules form on rocks. Click for larger view.

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.

TRAX Trains Keep Air-Quality Research on Track

By Logan Mitchell, Guest Blogger

DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.


TRAX train sporting an air-quality monitor on top

One great way you can help to reduce emissions and improve air quality is by using public transit. But did you know that the train you’re riding on may also be helping scientists study air pollution along the Wasatch Front?

For the past few years, my colleagues and I at the University of Utah have partnered with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and installed air-pollution monitors on two TRAX trains that operate on the Red and Green TRAX lines. We’ve been measuring particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), as well as the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4). This project, along with several other innovative projects (such as low-cost PM2.5 networks from PurpleAir and AQ&U ) as well as the gold standard for air-quality measurements from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Division of Air Quality (DAQ), have dramatically increased the spatial coverage of air-quality measurements along the Wasatch Front and are leading to new insights into our air-pollution patterns.

What have we learned?

The spatial patterns of air pollution are controlled by emissions, atmospheric chemistry, and daily wind patterns. These factors combine to create gradients in air quality across the city that differ by season and time of day. Understanding these spatial patterns can increase your air-quality awareness and help you plan your daily activities to reduce your exposure to air pollution.


Ozone patterns along the Wasatch Front based on time of day. Click for larger view and to navigate map using Google Earth.

For example, ozone levels measured at DAQ sites in the summertime frequently exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). We know that ozone concentrations are lowest in the morning, but what does that look like spatially across the city?

The TRAX data, averaged during morning hours across the entire summer season, show us what that looks like ( see map). The lowest ozone concentrations can actually be found in the city center in the morning. By mid-day, ozone levels are high due to photochemical reactions driven by strong atmospheric mixing and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) reacting in the presence of sunlight to form ozone.

Late in the evening as the sun goes down, the ozone levels fall, but they are still higher than in the morning. So, if you exercise outdoors along the Wasatch Front in the summertime, the best way to limit your exposure to ozone is to go in the morning.

There are interesting spatial patterns across the city, especially in the morning and evening.  These features are strongly affected by the pattern of combustion across the city as well as air flowing into the valley from the side canyons. Another interesting feature that we’re still investigating is the persistently elevated ozone levels near the University of Utah.

In addition to looking at average conditions, the real-time TRAX air-quality data are posted online so you can see the latest air-quality measurements.

What’s next?

With all of this new data coming in, there are lots of opportunities for new research. First, we’re working on improving the understanding of the relationships between air pollutants and health so we can provide better guidance about the health impacts of air pollution. These data can also help us examine the emission inventories to find out if they are consistent with our measurements. Any discrepancies could point to “missing” emissions and lead to improvements in emission inventories.

Ultimately, our goal is to provide the public and policymakers with the best information possible so they can effectively tackle air-quality issues.

If you’d like to learn more about the TRAX study, check out the research paper we recently published in the journal Atmospheric Environment. Keep an eye on the DEQ blog webpage as well, because we’ll be writing additional blogs for DEQ about our work in the months to come. Stay tuned!

I am an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah studying emissions and air quality along the Wasatch Front.  In my free time, I enjoy rock climbing, skiing, trail running, gardening, and watching movies.

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Warning Advisory Issued for Scofield Reservoir

Scofield reservoir

Madsen Bay Boat Ramp. Click for larger view.

The Southeast Health Department issued a harmful algal bloom (HAB) Warning Advisory for Scofield Reservoir after Division of Water Quality (DWQ) samples showed that cyanobacteria cell counts and anatoxin-a levels exceeded health-based thresholds. The Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, Mountain View Boat Ramp, and Boy Scout Camp currently show the heaviest bloom activity.

A DWQ monitoring crew observed increased bloom activity during July 5, 2018, sampling at the reservoir. Toxin test-strip results and subsequent Utah Public Health Lab (UPHL) testing came back non-detect for microcystin, but test strips and UPHL tests were both positive for anatoxin-a. Cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations were well above health-based thresholds, with cell densities of more 3.4 million cells per milliliter (cells/ml) at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp and greater than 250,000 cells/ml at the Mountain View Boat ramp. All cyanobacteria found in the samples were identified as Dolichospermum, a toxin-producing genus of cyanobacteria.

The monitoring crew returned to Scofield Reservoir to collect additional samples on July 10 and July 12, 2018. DWQ scientists, the DEQ District Engineer, and Southeast Health Department officials observed additional bloom activity at the Boy Scout Camp and the upstream inlet of Madsen Bay.

Based on cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations, the detection of anatoxin-a at sampling sites, and visual observations, the Southeast Health Department issued a Warning Advisory for Scofield Reservoir.

According to the Southeast Utah Health Department, city drinking water and Price River Water Improvement District (PRWID)-supplied water is treated and is safe to drink. Canal water is currently unaffected by any residual bloom.

While some areas of Scofield Reservoir are not currently affected by visible blooms, algae may move or disperse depending on temperature, wind, and weather. Recreationists are advised to be mindful of conditions, as they may change over the course of the day.

DWQ will return to Scofield Reservoir on July 16, 2018, to collect additional samples and track bloom activity.

Warning Advisory for Scofield Reservoir

A Warning Advisory indicates a moderate relative probability of acute health risk, cell-count density of 20,000 – 10 million cells per milliliter (cells/ml), microcystin levels of 4-2,000 micrograms per liter (µg/L), or anatoxin-a levels above non-detect. Advisory actions:

  • Do not swim or water ski
  • Do not ingest the water
  • Keep pets and livestock away
  • Clean fish well and discard guts
  • Avoid areas of scum when boating

Visit habs.utah.gov for more information and updates on bloom conditions at Scofield Reservoir.

Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District

Public Notices: Water Quality Jump to:


Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District—Silver Creek Facility, UT0024414


Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District Modification of Pretreatment Local Limits

Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District Pretreatment Program Rules Modification

SLT Express Way Inc. (formerly Triad Transport)


SLT Express Way Inc., AZR000513770: Public Notice, Used Oil Transporter Permit

Sawtooth NGL Caverns LLC

Water Quality Permit Info jump to:


NGL Energy Partners LP, in Utah dba Sawtooth NGL Caverns, LLC


Sawtooth NGL Caverns LLC, Permit No. UGW270008