Cleanup finished on Walker River oil spill |

Cleanup finished on Walker River oil spill

by Emily Auginbaugh

All the oil from a December 30 spill on the East Walker River has been cleaned up, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.

“This sign-off team inspected areas reported by the cleanup contractor to be ready for inspection and determined that all of the affected area meets the agreed-upon criteria for stream cleanup,” incident commander Kim McCleneghan said.

Much of the 9.93 miles of riverbank that were oiled underwent multiple passes by a cleanup force of 50 people over a 90-day period.

In addition to oil, oil tarballs, oiled vegetation and oiled gravel, cleanup crews picked up numerous beer cans, fishing gear and other trash along the river.

“The abandoned fishing line is particularly disturbing as animals often get caught in it and suffer needless injuries or death,” said Dana Michaels, public affairs officer for Fish and Game’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response.

Spill responders estimated 1,758 gallons of oil, 200 barrels of oily liquid and 695 cubic yards of oily debris were recovered. That represents 49 percent of the oil. Most oil spill cleanup in water results in less than 10 percent recovery, according to Fish and Game.

The fact that the spill occurred during winter, when the river’s flow was only 22 cubic feet per second contributed to the oil recovery, Fish and Game officials said.

Fish and Game collected 57 dead animals during this response: six beavers, one mink, four birds and 46 fish.

Truck driver Heath A. Curten, 23, was killed in the accident on State Route 182, seven miles upstream from the Nevada state line. He was carrying 3,600 pounds of oil for Advanced Fuel Infiltrations of Bakersfield, Calif.

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