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Keeping it clean

Walterville "Spill Drill" focused on skills

A 16-year-old emergency response plan was tested again last Wednesday at the Hendricks Bridge County Park in Walterville. The joint "spill drill" organized by the Eugene Water & Electric Board, McKenzie Fire & Rescue and the Eugene Springfield Fire Hazmat Team was designed to familiarize first responders with the McKenzie Watershed Emergency Response System (MWERS).

"Interagency drills like this are extremely valuable because it allows us to refresh and hone our skills in deploying spill response equipment," said Karl Morgenstern, EWEB's Watershed Restoration Program Manager.

A recent example occurred on September 30th head-on collision at Leaburg Lake. In the accident, a car hit an oil tanker truck on a narrow curve. Oil spilled from the engine, but luckily the tanker was empty and did not contaminate the river.

During the drill, crews practiced containing a fictitious 5,000 gallons of diesel that spilled into the river.. They set up fast-water containment booms, deployed fuel recovery equipment and worked together to minimize the spread of the hypothetical spill. In addition to the containment booms and other equipment, operators at EWEB's Hayden Bridge Filtration Plant increased the flow through the plant to fill reservoirs in anticipation of having to close intakes if a spill reached the plant.

"The real value is working together so we know each other and we know the resources and skills each agency can bring to a response. A good example of this is Holiday Farm Fire where organizations that are working closely together as part of Pure Water Partners (PWP) program before the fire quickly pivoted from conducting riparian health assessments to doing burn assessments and designing/installing erosion control best management proactices," Morgenstern said.


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