Oil spill reported at The Dalles Dam

January 17

THE DALLES — A sheen from an oil spill at The Dalles Dam was visible from Hood River bridge Friday morning.

Approximately 75 gallons of transformer oil, out of 200 spilled, entered the Columbia River. The oil, believed to contain toxic PCBs, spilled upstream of The Dalles Dam Thursday morning.

Greg deBruler of Columbia Riverkeeper said his group started monitoring and sampling Friday afternoon with the Columbia River Intertribal Fishery Commission. DeBruler said the oil contains between 5 and 10 parts per million PCBs.

Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Oregon and Washington departments of Ecology have responded, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife report.

Bonneville Dam was notified, and the Corps is also working with state health departments.

“We are focusing our efforts on containing the spill upstream,” said Matt Rabe, spokesman for the Corps of Engineers, which operates the dam.

Rabe said the spill happened after a transformer seal was damaged by the extreme weather, spilling 200-300 gallons of oil into the powerhouse. It was discovered at 8 a.m. Thursday; the Corps notified the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center.

DeBruler said his organization was concerned about the lack of recovery efforts downstream of the dam, considering PCBs’ immediate and long-term impacts on fish and invertebrate wildlife.

Foss Environmental is cleaning up the main slick, Rabe said.

“They’re working diligently to try to get it removed so we don’t have a continual stream downstream,” he said.

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