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News >  Pacific NW

Water from Oregon river off-limits after fuel spill

UPDATED: Sun., Dec. 17, 2017

Joanne Earnest enjoys a dip below a waterfall called Cascadia de los Ninos on the Little North Santiam River Sept. 2, 1996, in Oregon's Opal Creek area. (ROGER JENSEN / Oregonian)
Joanne Earnest enjoys a dip below a waterfall called Cascadia de los Ninos on the Little North Santiam River Sept. 2, 1996, in Oregon's Opal Creek area. (ROGER JENSEN / Oregonian)
Associated Press

IDANHA, Ore. – A western Oregon city remained without a key water source Sunday after a vehicle crash led to fuel spilling into the North Santiam River, state officials said.

Officials say 11,600 gallons of fuel spilled with an unknown amount entering the river, and the city of Salem, which is downstream, shut off its supply from the river.

The crash on Oregon Route 22 late Friday about 8 miles east of Idanha occurred when the driver apparently hit ice and lost control, according to Oregon State Police.

Officials say 58-year-old Ronald Edward Scurlock, of Redmond, died at the scene after the truck overturned and caught fire.

Officials closed the road in both directions between the east end of Idanha to the Santiam Junction. It’s not clear when it might reopen. Officials with the Oregon Department of Transportation didn’t immediately return a call Sunday from the Associated Press.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality officials said some of the unleaded gasoline burned but an unknown amount spilled into the river.

The city of Salem uses water from the river. It shut off its intake from the river at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Salem Public Works spokeswoman Heather Dimke said that the city will be able to meet demand for water for several days using storage reserves and groundwater wells.

Katherine Benenati, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Quality, said about 200 yards of soil on both sides of the road are contaminated and will have to be removed.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency planned to take water samples Sunday with lab results expected Tuesday.

Oregon State Police Sgt. Kaipo Raiser said an Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District fire engine responding to the tanker truck crash on Friday also lost control and rolled onto its side. No injuries were reported in that crash.

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