Oil Spill Exercise in Dexter

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DEXTER, Ore. — While an oil spill isn’t likely, a number of local agencies are being proactive by practicing how they would respond if oil were to spill into the middle fork of the Willamette River.

On Wednesday an orange boom lined the banks of the river, something you’d usually only see after oil spilled into the water.

“Accidents, equipment failures can happen, and so we want to practice with our agency partners on what to do if that type of event were to happen,” said Dustin Bengston, Project Manager for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The practice brought together a group from EWEB, the Army Corps of Engineers, and a number of local firefighting agencies.

“If this were to happen in the willamette valley these are the folks that we would call upon if an incident like this were to happen,” said Brian Wilson, Environmental Projection Specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The practice scenario, 5,800 gallons of oil dumping into the river from the nearby Dexter Dam, a dam operated by a hydropowered structure that uses oil to operate.

“We do have a lot of facilities, and again they do have a lot of oil for operating equipment inside them, but we certainly do what we can as far as oil accountability, and these oil water separators to actually mitigate negating any oil getting into the river itself,” Wilson said.

In case of a scenario like this, the group would first create a supply line across the river, then create a boom to contain the oil to part of the river for collection. The groups want to act fast to keep the oil out of the water supply.

Once the oil was out of the river, crews would stay on scene for weeks to make sure the shoreline was cleared of all the oil.

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