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(Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.)
September 2, 2015, 11:00 a.m.
The source of oil runoff from the warehouse site is now contained and the
stormwater system has been cleaned. Soil contaminated by oil at the stormwater
system outfall has been removed and erosion control put in place.
August 31, 2015, 1:30 p.m.
Over the stormy weekend Ecology responders visited the site to check the containment berm at the warehouse and creek.
The creek continues to show signs of improvement.
Small amounts of emulsified oil pooled behind the absorbents and boom. The
remaining oil in the creek is starting to solidify. Ecology plans to remove the
containment boom and absorbent from the creek by mid-week.
August 27, 2015 5:30 p.m.
Ecology and Cowlitz Clean Sweep have been working to clean up the Olequa Creek and warehouse fire site since last week. The appearance of the creek improved significantly over the past several days. Approximately 3.7 miles of Olequa Creek were impacted. Reports indicate over 1,100 gallons of cooking and vegetable oil were in the warehouse at the time of the fire. Ecology is using this number as the potential volume of the release.
Some unburned oil may remain in the warehouse. Other products that may have contained oil have not been identified. Workers have been collecting and removing oily water from creek, warehouse site and impacted soils with oil absorbing pads and sweep, portable skimmers, hand tools, and vacuum truck.
Berms have been constructed at the warehouse site to minimize runoff and aid in collection by vacuum truck. The total volume of oil collected has not yet been determined.
The impacted stormwater catch basins and underground line to the discharge point on the bank
of Olequa Creek have been cleaned. Oily soil has been removed and erosion protection installed on the bank of the creek from the storm water outlet.
The cause of the fish kill is likely a combination of several factors. Stressful conditions due to low stream flow and extended periods of hot weather resulted in warm stream temperatures. These conditions typically lead to low oxygen levels in the creek. Contaminated runoff from the warehouse fire added a flush of hot water plus oils and other possible contaminants to the creek. Fish and other organisms living in the creek are sensitive to a variety of impacts that can lead to stress, injury and death. Depletion of oxygen below sustainable levels, the toxic effects of chemical contaminants including constituents of many oils, coating of gills and scales from oil (including vegetable-based oils), and rapidly increasing water temperatures are examples.
Ecology has no plans to conduct the extensive testing required to attribute a single, primary cause of the fish kill in Olequa Creek. More than likely, it was a combination of the factors listed above. Ecology and WDFW have seen similar, but less extensive impacts at the locations of other large structural fires where water runs off the fire site enters streams or lakes.
Even though conditions in Olequa Creek have improved, oily residue remains on woody debris, shoreline vegetation and rocks. Most of the impacted section of the creek was walked on August 26.
Pockets of emulsified oil and sheen remain, but none that can be collected and removed. The log jam located just downstream from the storm water outlet has been a focus of attention for oil collection. It is now deemed clean and no attempts at flushing, wiping or cleaning are planned.
Heavy rain is expected over the weekend. Booms and sweep will remain in the creek as a precaution. The storm drain system at the warehouse site has been plugged and berms have been constructed to prevent the free flow of water off of the fire site. A vacuum truck will remain available to collect ponded water. Ecology expects to remove the remaining equipment and tanks associated with the environmental response next week.
Cleanup of the burned warehouse will be the responsibility the owners.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will decide whether or not to replant fish in the impacted section of the creek.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
August 20, 2015 5:00 p.m.
Ecology crews and the contractor continue to work on recovering oil from Olequa
Creek. Fresh absorbent pads are being placed on the creek to aid in passive
collection throughout the night.
Initial sampling results are in from the Ecology Manchester Lab, showing
vegetable oil only. Test results for metals are expected late next week.
August 19, 2015 4:00 p.m.
Ecology spill responders and our primary response contractor have been working today to control and recover the oil that remains in Olequa Creek.
August 19, 2015 9:30 a.m.
It appears that all species and sizes of fish, aquatic insects and other aquatic organisms were killed for at least five miles downstream.
Some prevention efforts put in place yesterday were overrun by the oil in the storm drain system, and additional oil reached the creek.
August 18, 2015 4:30 p.m.
Our spill responders have spoken with people on scene and have confirmed the warehouse took delivery recently of a large amount of vegetable shortening,
vegetable oil and canola oil. We believe this is the likely source of oil that reached Olequa Creek. No estimate on quantity yet at this time.
August 18, 2015 2:30 p.m.
August 18, at approximately 4:30 a.m. Ecology was notified that runoff from a warehouse fire at the Olympic Trading Company in Winlock was entering a storm drain.
Ecology’s Spill Response Team and response contractor responded.
Date of Incident:
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