As oil continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico to the tune of 40,000 barrels per day, Utahns have watched the devastation from a considerable distance. So it came as quite a surprise to Salt Lakers yesterday when Red Butte Creek began flowing black with crude.
This time it’s Chevron in the hot seat. The oil was traced to a leaking pipeline that feeds one of several refineries in North Salt Lake. Crews successfully capped it late yesterday afternoon, but the damage had been done. An estimated 50-60 gallons of medium crude leaked from the pipeline per minute, and it’s unknown when the leak began.
Though the Red Butte leak doesn’t come close to comparing to the Gulf blowout, it is tragic on many levels. Noxious fumes and tainted water aside, the spillage drenched many birds and damaged the century-old trees along the creek. Fish were undoubtedly affected as the slick enveloped the pond at Liberty Park. The creek feeds the Jordan River and eventually the Great Salt Lake– a lake with no outlet– and the heart of the non-coastal West’s migratory ecosystem.
Chevron crews are working feverishly to clean up the crude, but it will take time to assess the damage. Click over to the Salt Lake Tribune for a good run-down of the situation.