Fish and Wildlife Service says Walker River cleanup a success
RENO (AP) – Federal environmental officers are declaring the cleanup of an oil spill in the Walker River a success, thanks in part to work crews that spent weeks scrubbing oil from rocks.
The next step will be to assess damage done to the river, the fish, wildlife, water and vegetation on the riverbanks, officials for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday.
Crews have removed nearly half of the 3,600 gallons of heating oil that spilled into the river on Dec. 30 when a tanker truck crashed off California Highway 182 near Bridgeport, Calif.
The 1,750 gallons removed is one of the best recovery percentages on record, said Pete Tuttle, an environmental contaminants specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Reno.
Typically, the amount of oil recovered in a spill is less than 10 percent, he said.
”I am very impressed with the effort made by the cleanup crews, the responsible party and agency personnel,” Tuttle said Thursday.
”There were close to 70 people at the site from late February through mid-March literally scrubbing oil from rocks,” he said.
The river is popular for trout fishing. It’s also a water source for ranchers in Nevada’s Lyon County.
The trucking firm, Advanced Fuel Filtration Systems of Bakersfield, Calif., took responsibility for the accident and hired Sparks, Nev.-based H20 Environmental Resources to help with the cleanup.
Oil-capturing booms remain in the water to catch any additional oil that may flow through the system as spring flows increase, he said.
The California Department of Fish and Game, Nevada Division of Wildlife, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will work together to survey the impacts, Tuttle said.
Direct impacts so far include the deaths of six beavers, one mink and four birds. Forty dead fish were recovered, but not all had visible signs of oil and some may have died after they got caught in the ice, Tuttle said.
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