Willard Bay Diesel Fuel Spill

By John Whitehead

The Willard Bay Diesel Fuel Spill in March 2013, was certainly not a welcome event for anybody—not for Chevron, not for DEQ, and certainly not for Willard Bay State Park, the folks who recreate there, and the animal and plant life that call the reservoir “home.”

Diesel Fuel Spill

Aerial image of Willard Bay 12 days after a Aerial image of Willard Bay 12 days after a Chevron pipeline leaked diesel fuel in 2013. Aerial image of Willard Bay 12 days after a Chevron pipeline leaked diesel fuel in 2013.

The cleanup was essentially complete in July 2013, although there were some minor hot spots that needed to be taken care of in the months to follow. DEQ completed extensive soils and water testing to answer the question: “Is it safe for folks and critters to return to the area of immediate impact?” We are just finishing up Risk Assessments for possible impacts to Human Health and potential Ecological Risks to aquatic communities from the spill. Based on our draft documents, it looks like we may be able to issue the “all clear” soon.

Diesel Fuel Cleanup

Hard booms and absorbent booms at the Willard Bay North Marina during the diesel fuel cleanup divided the area to better contain contaminated water and facilitate water sampling. Photo Credit:  Stacee Adams

If there is a silver lining to all this, it is that the Settlement Agreement with Chevron provides approximately $3.1 million dollars to fund new mitigation projects. You might ask, what is a mitigation project? Well, these are projects that are above and beyond any cleanup action Chevron was required to complete in order to enhance and protect waterways and environmental areas that may have been affected by the diesel spill. Mitigation projects must protect or improve water quality and /or the ecology of natural systems. Acceptable mitigation projects include, but aren’t limited to, the following activities:

  • Environmental projects
  • Infrastructure improvement
  • Studies or educational activities

Based on the phone calls and emails we’ve been getting, there are a lot of interested folks out there with project proposals. We will evaluate all proposals received by 5 p.m. on May 5, 2014, and rank them to determine which ones will get funded. We will post the projects on our website as soon as we compile them, and we’ll let you know about the projects on our blog as well.

I welcome your thoughts on the project proposals we receive. Please share your info and insights in the “Post a Comment” section located at the end of this post. Stay tuned and let me know what you think.

I’m a hydrologist with more than 30 years of water quality related Diesel Spill Cleanupexperience in surface and ground water issues in Utah. I have degrees in Watershed Science from Utah State University and Business Administration from New Mexico State University. My current assignment is as an assistant director in the Division of Water Quality supervising the Surface Water Discharge Permitting and Watershed Protection programs. When I’m not working, I do as much camping, fly-fishing and cross country skiing as time allows.