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Chevron Pipeline December 2, 2010 Spill Analytical Results:
Red Butte Creek

In the early morning hours of December 2, 2010, the Chevron Oil Pipeline crossing the University of Utah leaked. The leak occurred at a valve located between Red Butte Creek and Fort Douglas. Emergency response crews were able to prevent the spilled oil from reaching Red Butte Creek.

DWQ personnel responded to the spill and water samples were collected from Red Butte Creek twice per day. Samples were collected from Red Butte Creek at the locations shown in the table below. The analytical results for these sample locations are shown here.

Sample NumberLocationComments
RB Above GardensRed Butte Creek upstream of Red Butte GardensHydraulically up gradient of spill
RB-2Red Butte Creek above Red Butte GardensEarthfax sample location analogous to DWQ RB Above Gardens
RB-4Red Butte Creek below Chipeta WayImmediately up gradient from Spill Site
RB Near GreenhouseRed Butte Creek near greenhouse at University of UtahDown gradient of spill and closest to spill site
RB-1Red Butte Creek at Spill SiteEarthfax sample location analogous to DWQ RB Near Greenhouse
RB at Foothill BlvdRed Butte Creek at Foothill BlvdDown gradient from spill site and RB Near Greenhouse
RB-3Red Butte Creel above Foothill Blvd.Earthfax sample location analogous to DWQ RB at Foothill Blvd.
RB at Miller ParkRed Butte Creek at Miller Park (1500E)Down gradient from spill site and RB at Foothill
RB at 1100ERed Butte Creek at 1100 EastFurthest down gradient from spill site

Results Summary

The results show some volatile oil-related compounds (benzene, toluene, xylenes) were detected at trace levels in the creek on December 2. These levels were well below health thresholds for both humans and aquatic life in the creek. However, no physical evidence (breaches in the containment or sheen in Red Butte Creek) was observed that would indicate liquid oil contaminated the creek. Analytical results show only the most volatile substances in the oil were found in creek. If liquid oil contaminated the creek, both volatile and semi-volatile substances would be expected. DWQ hypothesizes that the volatile compounds were deposited by air deposition from the spilled oil to the creek.

Aliphatic hydrocarbons in the C22-C25 range were detected once by Earthfax at both the up gradient and down gradient sites (RB2 and RB1, respectively) on December 3 (554 KB). Similar measured concentrations at the up gradient and down gradient sample sites suggests the hydrocarbons were not spill related. Other volatile organic compounds that are not associated with oil, such as acetone and bis(2)ethylhexylphthalate, were also sporadically detected in creek samples.

Based on the continuing lack of detections of organic compounds, DWQ has transitioned to sampling Red Butte Creek at three locations once per week until Christmas. Macroinvertebrates will be sampled during one of these events. If the analytical results continue to be negative, monitoring for this spill will be terminated. Quarterly sampling to confirm the cleanup from the June 2010 oil spill will continue.

Analytical Results

File names are the sample date followed by the media sampled, e.g., 12022010_water.pdf is a water sample collected on December 2, 2010. Files names starting with “Earthfax” were collected by Earthfax (Chevron contractor). Please note that the samples collected prior to December 2, 2010 were collected as part of the quarterly monitoring for the June 2010 pipeline spill and represent conditions before the second spill in December 2010.

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