Department of Ecology News Release - March 3, 2015

Attention turns to wildlife at Sunnyside oil spill
Cleanup continues where 1,500-gallon oil tank leaked to creek, Yakima River

SUNNYSIDE – At least 50 birds have been observed as having been oiled as a result of a 1,500- gallon oil spill to Sulphur Creek and the Yakima River near Sunnyside, Wash., in Yakima County.

The area is home to hundreds of species of fish and wildlife. This time of year the area supports wintering and migrating waterfowl as well as river otters, muskrats and beaver. Sloughs and wetlands are critical rearing habitat for resident fish.

The wildlife rehabilitation organization FOCUS Wildlife is on scene and will evaluate the impacts to waterfowl and other wildlife, including how animals may be rehabilitated.

Citizens should not attempt to capture any oiled wildlife. Such efforts could endanger the safety both of the public and animals. Volunteers are not needed at this time.

Oiled animals may be reported by leaving a detailed message at 1-800-22BIRDS (1-800-222-4737) or email

Oil spilled Sunday, March 1, when an above-ground storage tank failed at a former feedlot northwest of Sunnyside. The oil leaked to a network of ditches, quickly filling Sulphur Creek, and reaching the Yakima River near Mabton. A light sheen of oil was seen as far south as Prosser, some 14 miles away.

A unified command of the Washington departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife, Yakama Nation, U.S. EPA and Deaton Land LLC, continues to work the spill.

The tank is no longer leaking and the majority of the oil is contained in Sulphur Creek. Oil is being vacuumed up and protective boom is in place at multiple locations including where the creek drains into the Yakima River and at the Yakama Nation Fish Hatchery near Prosser.

“Our oil recovery operations are ongoing and we are having good success collecting oil, particularly in the Sulphur Creek area,” said incident commander Jeff Lewis, with Ecology. “We are concentrating on recovering oil from the water surface, oiled debris and soil.”

The cause of the spill remains under investigation. Information will be updated at Ecology’s website on the incident.



Joye Redfield-Wilder, Ecology communications, 509-575-2610 @ecyCentral