Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 5/21/2008
Subject: Diesel Spill in Hacker Creek
Contact: Melissa Martel, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (707) 445-6215

Creek sampling continued yesterday by Division of Environmental Health (Division) staff to determine if Hacker creek is safe to draw water from after a diesel spill was discovered on Friday, May 16. An anonymous tip led authorities to the spill near the headwaters of Hacker Creek, a tributary to Salmon Creek in southern Humboldt. The origin of the release is an above ground fuel storage tank. The tank was overfilled causing a diesel release to the ground.

Laboratory analytical results from preliminary sampling on Friday support the Divisionís basis for urging residents who draw water from Hacker Creek to pull intake lines. On Monday, Division staff observed the diesel about 100 yards further downstream from its location Friday. Additional booms have been set down creek to prevent further migration of the diesel.

Northcoast Environmental Construction (NEC), a local clean-up contactor, started work on the creek Friday and continued clean up efforts through the weekend. According to Jim Crook of NEC, the soil and fractured bedrock of the embankment where the spill occurred continue to release diesel fuel into Hacker Creek. Booms, pads and dams are being used to absorb the diesel.

Clean-up of the creek is expected to be on-going. It is unlikely that Hacker Creek will be safe for water use for several weeks. The Division will continue monitoring next week and will provide additional information when analytical results are available. The taste and odor threshold of diesel is 100 parts per billion; the toxicity threshold is 56 parts per billion.


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