Spokane River sheen

(Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.)

The Washington Dept. of Ecology began responding to an unknown sheen reported on the Spokane River on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023. It was determined that Inland Empire Paper Company (IEP) experienced a cooling equipment failure that resulted in a mineral oil leak to the Spokane River.

Analytical data also indicated the oil recovered at the Upriver Dam location is the same as a product sample collected at IEP. The analysis does not indicate the presence of PCBs in the product sample.

IEP continues to work closely with Ecology and river teams to complete recovery of the mineral oil.  

Summary information

Date of incident:  December 26, 2023
Location:

Spokane River

 

Type of incident: Mineral oil
Cause of incident: Cooling equipment failure
Responsible party: Inland Empire Paper Company

Status updates

Friday, Feb. 23, 2024

Responders did not observe sheening in the Spokane River over the past two days. Upriver Dam remains boomed with absorbent and hard boom. Ecology responders monitor the situation daily. Response contractors estimate they have recovered 998 gallons of product.

 

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024

Response contractors have removed all boom downriver of Upriver Dam. Upriver Dam continues to see sheen coming from upstream. Because of this, Upriver Dam has remained boomed with absorbent and hard boom.

Crews continue to replace absorbent as needed and Ecology responders monitor the situation daily. Response contractors estimate they have recovered 947 gallons of product.

 

Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024

As of Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, 738 gallons of mineral lubricant oil has been recovered from the Spokane River. While mineral oil is considered non-toxic, it can still be harmful to animals and the environment.

Any oil spill can cause environmental damage and we continue to work to recover as much of the spill as possible.

 

Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024

It was determined that Inland Empire Paper Company (IEP) experienced a cooling equipment failure that resulted in a mineral oil leak to the Spokane River. The leak was quickly resolved and IEP notified Ecology. IEP continues to work closely with Ecology and river teams to complete recovery of the mineral oil.

The mineral oil product used in the cooling application is non-hazardous, non-toxic and not harmful to humans. 

 

Monday, Jan. 1, 2024

Ecology responders identified about 1 to 1.5 miles of sheening near the shoreline around the Long Lake area in Tumtum, WA. A boom has been placed to contain the spill. Ecology responders continue to work to identify the source of the spill.

 

Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023

The contractor has placed hard and soft boom in the river above and below the debris catch at the Upriver Dam. They have also placed soft boom above the Spokane Falls Dams at Riverfront Park and have placed hard and soft boom below the Nine Mile Dam.

The contractor continues debris removal and are conducting remediation operations. The contractor and Ecology staff continue to conduct up river surveys above the Upriver Dam to the Centennial Trail Bridge between Argonne Road Bridge and Trent Road Bridge. The sheen was not seen at or above the Centennial Trail Bridge.

 

Friday, Dec. 29, 2023

Ecology staff and the contractor continued to collect samples. The contractor has placed a hard and soft boom in the river below the debris catch at the Upriver Dam. They have also staged all necessary equipment and started debris removal and are conducting remediation operations.

 

Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023

As the sheen moved down the river, it began to collect at Upriver Dam. Ecology responders mobilized a contractor to assist in the cleanup at this location. The contractor placed a boom in the river  and staged all necessary equipment to begin remediation. Additional samples were taken and sent for rush analysis.

Surveys conducted down river did not find any sheen below Riverfront Park. 

Boom added to Upriver Dam.

Responders place a boom along Upriver Dam.

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023

Ecology responders continued to survey the river on Wednesday, Dec. 27. Little to no sheen was observed from the original discovery point and it appears to have been an isolated incident. The sheen has migrated down river and has been observed at Nine Mile Dam.

The sheen was too light to be recoverable and Ecology responders have observed no impacts to wildlife in the area. Ecology responders continue to investigate the source of the release and monitor the river.

 

Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023

Ecology responders began investigating a sheen that was discovered on the Spokane River near 8400 E South Riverway. The sheen appeared to be coming from upstream and was approximately 20 yards wide, very light with no odor and no adherence to absorbent material.

No source point was immediately located. Ecology responders have taken samples for analysis to help determine what the sheen is and where it was coming from. That analysis takes about seven days.

Sheen on the Spokane River

Sheen on the Spokane River on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023.

Media contact

Stephanie May, Communications, stephanie.may@ecy.wa.gov, 509-202-5674 ,ecyspokane