June 2007

Demanding Accountability

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What's Eating
Gilbert Creek?

Diesel Spill Could be a
Blessing in Disguise

By Ron Lee
Investigative Reporter

Grants Pass, Oregon - Late on Saturday May 5th, 2007, a diesel storage tank on private property was toppled when its supporting structure collapsed spilling its estimated 150 gallons of fuel across over an estimated 75 yards of cracked asphalt before dripping into the storm drains which empty into Gilbert Creek almost a mile away. According to a DEQ certified clean-up supervisor, had this spill not happened an unrelated gas leak, from an unknown location which has apparently been seeping into the creek for years, would not have been discovered. This supervisor stated to a clean-up worker that the gas is more corrosive and ultimately much more harmful to the environment. At this time they have yet to determine where the gas leak is coming from.


It could come from any number of gas stations along the North end along I-5 as all the storm drains in that area are linked and run-off into the creek. Even when gas stations hose-off their lots, the gas-laddened mixture makes its way to the creek.

According to the property owners, a state patrolman who was investigating the diesel spill told them that they could not have known that there was an impending collapse - that it was just an unfortunate accident. In fact, the property owners were not cited for any violation by the officer as it was not a willful act.

The owner acted swiftly and agencies and crews were called in immediately to begin the daunting task of cleaning up the spill and the creek to DEQ and Fish and Game's often prohibitive guidelines. One worker, who was donating his time to assist in the clean-up, stated, "The fish and game came in and said we were kicking up too much mud and made us stop. I wondered if the fish would be hurt by muddy water as they're often faced with incredibly muddy water during run-off seasons. And really, what's worse, the mud or diesel?"

Gilbert Creek after the clean-up, which has made it more pristine than before the spill. The only exception, the corrosive gas which is still seeping into the water from an unrelated leak.

After eight days and over 600 man hours, with many people donating their time trudging through the creek's water to ensure the diesel spill had no lasting effects, the clean-up costs exceeded $50,000.00, paid exclusively by the owners. This figure is before any potential fines that the Fish and Game may impose, which are said to possibly be forthcoming.

As for the gas leak, there has yet to be crews sent to clean-up this continuing issue that faces Gilbert Creek and its fish and wildlife.

Editor's Note: Perhaps they're waiting to discover the source and have another private property owner foot the bill that our environmental taxes should otherwise cover. One has to wonder what the true motives are, protecting the waterways, wildlife and fish, or making money through taxes, fines and permits?

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