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Price River Oil Spill

A tanker truck carrying crude oil on Highway 6 rolled over on the evening of July 12, 2018, and released approximately 750-1,000 gallons of crude oil into the Price River. The Department of Environmental Quality joined emergency personnel at the scene to contain the spill and protect water quality in the Price River.

Price River Oil Spill Boom
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.

Price River Spill Activities July 18, 2018, to July 20, 2018

Envirocare completed one pass of cleaning for the entire contaminated area down to the Carbon Avenue Bridge on July 18, 2018. Very little contamination was found on the lower stretch of the river. A visual inspection check at the Wellington boom made by Southeast Health Department staff found no crude oil contamination at or below the boom. Envirocare made a second “polishing” cleanup pass along the entire river corridor on July 19, 2018.

DEQ’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) received final lab confirmation on samples collected July 16, 17 and 18, 2018.  None of the samples collected from the Green River Water Treatment Plant pre-treatment holding ponds, plant influent, or finished drinking water contained oil and grease or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The drinking-water plant operator will collect a final confirmation sample on July 20, 2018.

The DEQ District Engineer will collect water samples on July 20, 2018, at six locations along the Price River, and DWQ staff will pick up and deliver the samples to the lab that evening. Sample results should be available early next week.

Price River Spill Activities July 17, 2018

Price River oil globules
Crews remove oil globules. Click for larger view.

A significant flash flood on the evening of July 16, 2018, breached the lower containment boom at the Pilling Trailer Court. Since the cleanup was not complete, some contamination spread downstream. Cleanup crews found sporadic crude down to the Carbon Avenue Bridge. While the amount was small,  this section of the Price River parallels the Price River Recreation Trail.  Based on the proximity of the contamination to the trail, cleanup was extended two miles to the Carbon Avenue Bridge. Since the waxy crude is primarily globules and small chunks, crews are picking these up by hand.

Cleanup today will focus on the 100 North Bridge to the Carbon Avenue Bridge in the morning and 100 north to the Pilling Trailer Court in the afternoon. Significant contamination remains on “The Island” below Gordon Creek, and crews will clean up that area later today. Most of the cleanup should be completed today with some “polishing work” tomorrow, July 19, 2018.

Staff from the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) were at the Green River City drinking water intake on July 16, 2018,  to collect a comprehensive suite of samples from holding ponds and treatment plant effluent. DDW is not expecting detectable results, but sampling is the only way to know for sure. DDW hopes to have final results late Thursday, July 19, 2018.

Price River Spill Activities July 15, 2018-July 16, 2018

Samples collected on July 13, 2018, showed gasoline range organics (GRO) levels were generally below limits downstream from the spill location. Diesel range organics (DRO) levels were elevated about 1000 feet downstream, but this was not unexpected given the small amount of oil residue and large chunks of crude in the water during sampling. DRO levels dropped sharply thereafter, which shows the oil residue is being diluted as the river runs downstream. DEQ Division of Water Quality (DWQ) crews will collect follow-up samples on July 18 or 19, 2018.

Sampling the Price River following the spill. Click for larger view.

DEQ’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) conducted sampling on July 16, 2018, above the Green River drinking- water intake. The plant is located approximately 100 miles downstream from the spill location, and cleanup crews estimate that less than one barrel (42 gallons) of oil flowed downstream towards the Green River. DDW wants to ensure that water entering and exiting the plant meets applicable drinking-water standards. Sample results should be available by July 20, 2018.

Cleanup near the spill site is proceeding well. Contractors estimate that all but a half mile of the river corridor has been “rough-cleaned” with at least one cleaning pass. Cleanup crews will focus on the last half mile on July 17, 2018, and begin a “polishing run” for the entire area of the river contaminated by the spill. Work is expected to be completed by July 18, 2018.

Price River Spill Activities July 13, 2018-July 14, 2018

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.

Price River Oil Spill Boom
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
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.


Price River Spill Incident Maps

Price River Map
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Price River Map
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