From the Utah Rivers Council on Tuesday:



A weekend storm washed oil pollution that started two days earlier into the Green River, which



provides 40 percent of the Colorado River’s flows at Lake Powell. The total quantity of oil spilled into



the Green River is unknown, although the BLM indicated the leaking well gushed 80 to 100 barrels of



oil per hour for more than 30 hours Wednesday and Thursday, according to a Salt Lake Tribune story.



The Green River spill came from oil entering a dry wash nearby. Although the spill was said to be



“contained” Thursday, thunderstorms on Friday night breached containment structures, sending oil



and surface contaminants down the wash and into the Green River, which is critical habitat for four



endangered fish species and the water supply for millions of people downstream.





 



What a tragedy that polluting the water supply for millions of people could so easily have



been prevented. It shows a lack of respect for downstream water users and the river itself.



 



 





said Zach Frankel, Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council.



Endangered razorback suckers are currently spawning at the confluence of the San Rafael and Green



Rivers, just downstream of where the oil spill entered the river. Their recently hatched larvae remain



suspended in river currents until they reach critical nursery habitat downstream and are vulnerable to



impacts like contamination from toxic chemicals. Officials have not released information about the



spill’s impacts on endangered fish, which are considered irreplaceable.



Photos from the EPA On Scene Coordinator are available at the following website:



http://www.epaosc.org/site/image_list.aspx?site_id=9278&counter=219522



The oil spill is the 3rd to occur in the last 3 months amid Utah’s oil and gas boom that is increasingly



threatening the watersheds that provide water to millions of downstream residents. The State of Utah



has seen an explosion in oil and gas development over the last 10 years that has led to a similar rise



in accidents and spills according to various sources. In addition to the Green River spill, two spills



occurred in March in another tributary watershed of the Colorado River, the Little Valley Wash of the



Escalante River. Other major Utah spills include two large events on Red Butte Creek, another in



Parley’s Creek and another in Willard Bay.



Utah’s recruitment of new energy development has led the state to become 11th in the U.S. for crude



oil production and 10th in natural gas output, according to the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining. The



growth shows no sign of abatement as thousands of proposed new wells await approval alongside a



cavalcade of tar sands and oil shale projects that threaten Utah’s watersheds and the water supply for



millions of western residents.



"



 



Today we have oil headed to the faucets of the Lower Colorado River Basin. Utah’s



carelessness means more oil in their taps tomorrow."



 



 



said John Weisheit, Conservation Director



of Living Rivers and the Colorado Riverkeeper.



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Headwater lands like those in Utah provide the majority of flows for the Colorado River water supply



tapped by residents in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Tuscon and Phoenix among other cities. More oil



spills are likely in the future, based on data sources tracking incidents over the last several years. A



comparison of approvals of oil and gas wells with incident reports of spills and accidents indicates



Utah is likely to see more spills as thousands of new oil and gas wells are approved.



State and federal data indicates reported spills from oil and gas well sites were up 17 percent last



year— this can be seen in the following graphic published by E&E News on May 12, 2014.



Earlier this month, congressional investigators from the Government Accountability Office released a



report detailing the BLM’s failure to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells considered potentially at



high risk for water contamination and other environmental impacts. The report emphasized the



agency’s lack of oversight and ineffective coordination with state regulators in Utah and several other



states, according to an AP story.



For More Information Contact 801-699-1856 Utah Rivers Council



or 435-259-1063 Living Rivers