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Boat Ramps Re-Closed As DEQ Tests Water Output Following Oil Spill

Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality

Oil spilled into the McKenzie River last week doesn’t appear to be at levels sufficient to harm wildlife or people. But as KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, some boat-ramps are being closed off again as testing continues.

UPDATE: Since this story aired, the DEQ has decided to keep all three boat ramps closed until further notice. An earlier version of this story said the Hendricks and Bellinger ramps would re-open March 21st.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) took and analyzed water samples near the spill site and further downstream.

Katherine Benenati of the DEQ says now crews are checking the cleanliness of a pipe that’s been cleaned and is now pumping water out at the rate of 3500 gallons a minute. 

Credit Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality
Clean-up crews along the banks of the McKenzie.

“Right now they’re not seeing any sheen either at that area or downstream," she says. "But again, we do have a boom in place that would contain any oily water in the event that it did come out.”

After a brief opening over the weekend, the Hendricks and Bellinger boat ramps were closed again Monday. Those and the Hayden Bridge boat ramp will remain closed until further notice.

200 gallons of oil from the International Paper mill spilled into the McKenzie on March 12th. An investigation is ongoing.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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