Avista is removing crews, equipment and absorbent booms from the Clark Fork River in Western Montana, as response to a February 26 mineral oil spill concludes. Avista began decommissioning the effort Friday, April 10, and should be completely finished by Wednesday of this week.
“There’s no indication that the incident caused any harm to fish, wildlife or water supplies,” Bruce Howard, director of environmental affairs for Avista, said. “However, we made a commitment to take extra precautions and keep absorbent booms on the water as long as necessary to ensure we cleaned up as much mineral oil as possible.”
Material collected from the river over the six-week period was routinely tested for mineral oil components; test results of material collected showed little or no presence of mineral oil and no presence of PCBs.
“What we’ve collected in recent weeks appears to come from other sources, including biological materials typical of vegetation and other natural substances that accumulate on the water during spring run-off,” Howard said. “We’re at the bottom end of a very substantial river drainage system, so we see everything that enters the river upstream.”
The spill was discovered at Avista’s Noxon Rapids Hydroelectric Project Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009, as ice that had built up on the face of the dam fell off and broke a pressure gauge on the valve of a pipe carrying transformer oil, causing oil to spill onto the transformer deck. Final calculations indicate that just over 1,000 gallons of the lightweight mineral oil entered the river between Noxon Rapids and Cabinet Gorge dams. The oil was initially visible as a fine sheen on the surface of the water in an area upstream from Heron Bridge in Montana.
For several days immediately following the spill, Avista worked with local, state and federal agencies in an emergency response. Representatives of Avista and the agencies met on March 31 to discuss how the response went and what might be done in future incidents to further improve emergency response procedures.
"The clean-up of the mineral oil release in Noxon posed many unique challenges and the Avista team worked very long hours under difficult circumstances to complete the removal,” Duc Nguyen of the Environmental Protection Agency, said. "Everyone from Avista responded with professionalism and creativity to ensure that the hazards at the site were mitigated".
Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is our operating division that provides service to 355,000 electric and 314,000 natural gas customers in three Western states. Avista’s primary, non-regulated subsidiary is Advantage IQ. Our stock is traded under the ticker symbol “AVA.” For more information about Avista, please visit www.avistacorp.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding the company’s current expectations. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than historical facts. Such statements speak only as of the date of the news release and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations. These risks and uncertainties include, in addition to those discussed herein, all of the factors discussed in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2008.
Avista Corp. and the Avista Corp. logo are trademarks of Avista Corporation.
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