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Oil Spilled at Dworshak Dam Contained

by Laura Berg
NW Fishletter, October 3, 2016

Dworshak Dam on the North Fork Clearwater River in Idaho.
With a height of 717 feet , Dworshak is the third tallest dam in the United States and the tallest straight-axis concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. An estimated 10 to 20 gallons of turbine lubricant accidentally spilled Sept. 19 into the Clearwater River during work on Dworkshak Dam's Unit 3.

Steve Hall, reservoir manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District, reported to the Technical Management Team on Sept. 21 that a small amount of oil spilled at the dam on the North Fork Clearwater River.

"Most of the oil spilled inside the turbine and won't be easy to clean," Hall said. He said some oil had reached the bridge near the North Fork confluence with the Clearwater River, which is near Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. Downstream hatcheries were immediately notified, and no damage has been reported by these facilities.

Contractor Andritz Hydro, Inc. was preparing to disassemble and repair the Unit 3 generator when the spill occurred.

Workers were able to prevent more lubricant from spilling into the river, and emergency response crews contained the oil that made it downstream, Corps spokeswoman Gina Baltrusch told Fishletter Sept. 22.

"The spill is contained now and none escaped from the turbine," she said. "They'll be cleaning up for several days before they know exactly how much oil spilled."

The Corps' Dworshak spill response team and a spill team from Pasco, Wash., responded quickly to contain and recover the oil, a Corps news release said.

"We are working on a switch over to more a fish-friendly lubricant, but haven't gotten there yet," Hall said.

The Clearwater River in Idaho is a tributary of the Snake River.

Laura Berg
Oil Spilled at Dworshak Dam Contained
NW Fishletter, October 3, 2016

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