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

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 6/3/2008
Subject: Open Creek
Contact: Melissa Martel, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (707) 445-6215

Based on analytical results from water samples collected since May 16, 2008, the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Environmental Health (DEH) and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board have determined that diesel spilled into the north fork of Hacker Creek is no longer a threat to residents 1,500 yards below the site of the spill. Residents may resume using water from the creek with the following provisions:

1. Water taken directly from the creek should be treated to remove sediment and pathogens (bacteria and viruses from animal waste) prior to consumption. Chlorination of drinking water is the most common effective treatment and is recommended to prevent waterborne illness.
2. Residents should flush their wells and creek intake systems to ensure that water taken from the creek after the spill and prior to shutting down their systems has been removed.
3. A fuel odor and/or sheen on a glass of water taken from the tap are indications that the water is not safe to drink. If you notice either of these problems, please contact us at the number below.


An estimated 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel was found in the north fork of Hacker Creek on Wednesday, May 14th. Immediately after the spill, residents were advised not to use water from Hacker Creek.

Cleanup and monitoring

The State of California Department of Fish and Game and the Regional Water Quality Control Board are working with DEH, SHN Consulting and North Coast Environmental Construction, a private contractor, to mitigate the spill. Oil absorbent booms, pads, and other materials are being used to collect the petroleum discharged into the creek. An interceptor ditch has been dug to divert diesel from the area of the release to prevent it from entering the creek.

Water samples were collected upstream and downstream at four locations to evaluate the impact of the spill and assess the effectiveness of the cleanup. Based on field observations and on analytical results received as of May 30th, it appears creek water below 1500 yards is no longer being impacted by petroleum. Additional sample results will be available over the next few days to confirm this conclusion. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Humboldt County Division of Environmental Health at (707) 445-6215 or (800) 963-9241.


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