GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE, Utah (ABC4) — Clean-up efforts are still underway after a mixture of produced water and up to 163 barrels of crude oil were spilled during a drilling operation in September, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
The Division of Water Quality was notified of an oil spill in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through the 24-hour Spill Line on Sept. 13.
The spill traveled 17 miles from the west side of Dixie National Forest, across the national monument, and ended near the town of Escalante, according to the department.
After investigating the issue, DEQ authorities estimate as much as 6,433 barrels of produced water and 163 barrels of crude oil were spilled.
Produced water is the water that comes out of the ground with the crude oil during the drilling process, according to the Water Environment Federation. It often contains oil, suspended and dissolved solids and various chemicals.
While no surface waters are believed to be affected at this time, the currently dry Alvey Wash was impacted by the oil mixture. DEQ says it is not aware “of any impacts to human health or wildlife” associated with the spill.
The oil mixture was released during a drilling operation by Citation Oil and Gas Corp. The corporation, along with several national organizations, is working to “excavate” the material from the area. DEQ is overseeing the effort and working on “assessing ongoing enforcement action.”
DEQ officials say the cleanup effort is going as quickly as possible, however difficult terrain and weather may impact the progress. For the time being, officials are asking the public to avoid the area and report any further concerns to the Spill Line.
To contact authorities about this or other spills, use the DEQ Spill Line: (801) 536-4123