'Spill Drill' carried out to prep for potential fuel leaks and spills

Oct 13, 2021

If you drove by Hendricks Bridge County Park today, you might’ve seen emergency crews wading out in the McKenzie River with containment booms.  Rest assured though, this was not an actual fuel spill.

A small crew extend a containment boom out into the McKenzie River today, as part of a drill aimed at preparing agencies for actual spills and leaks into the McKenzie River.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

A lengthy containment boom waits to be deployed as part of today's 'spill drill' exercise on the McKenzie River.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Rather, it’s a spill drill. A few dozen personnel from agencies like EWEB and the Region 2 HAZMAT team were responding to a hypothetical accident: the spilling of a thousand gallons of fuel into the McKenzie.

Karl Morgenstern of EWEB, before the drill commences.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

“Because this is Eugene’s sole source of drinking water, we really want to make sure that we’re on top of things," said Karl Morgenstern, EWEB’s Watershed Restoration Program Manager.

"And that we rehearse this over and over again so that when it does happen, we’re efficient and able to work together as a team.” 

The drill helps those in the McKenzie Watershed Emergency Response System prepare for an actual spill, such as one in March 2018 where a Springfield paper company leaked a thousand gallons of fuel into the river. The Oregon DEQ would later fine International Paper nearly $21,000 for the spill. 

The containment boom, extended out into the McKenzie River around midday.
Credit Adam Spencer / EWEB

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