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River Recreation Advisory – Green River and Colorado River Below the Confluence

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Date: June 3, 2014

River Recreation Advisory – Green River and Colorado River Below the Confluence  

On the morning of May 21, 2014, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Moab Field Office was notified by SW Energy and the State of Utah, Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining of a leaking oil well in the Salt Wash field south of I-70, approximately 12 miles southeast of the town of Green River, Utah. In response, the BLM dispatched technical staff to investigate and assist with containment of the leaking fluids (consisting of primarily produced salt water and some oil). With regulators on site from the BLM, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SW Energy worked to contain the spill and shut-in the well. Facilities were in place to contain fluid leaking from the well and pad on May 21, but some fluids travelled approximately 1.5 miles down a nearby wash prior to containment. By early afternoon on May 22, SW Energy successfully shut-in the leaking well.

Following heavy rain on the night of May 23, an unknown quantity of produced water (salt water) and some oil overcame in-place preventative measures in the lower wash and travelled to the Green River. The wash is located approximately 53 river miles upstream of Canyonlands National Park. An additional containment structure was constructed in the lower wash the following day and it has proved successful in preventing any further release of fluids into the Green River. Clean-up and reclamation efforts within the wash and at the pad site are ongoing.

On May 30, BLM technical staff and UDEQ representatives travelled the river to assess potential impacts to the area between the location of the release and Mineral Bottom (about 50 river miles). The team observed eddies, backwaters, wash confluences, and debris piles, and examined floating debris, foam, and stream banks looking for evidence of hydrocarbons. The UDEQ collected samples that will be analyzed specifically for hydrocarbons.

Although there was little physical evidence of contamination, the team is reviewing its findings. As of June 2, there have been no reported observations of water contaminants along the river corridors in Canyonlands National Park, but boaters on the Green River and on the Colorado River below its confluence with the Green River should be aware of the potential for contaminants to be present, especially in eddies, backwaters, and tributary mouths.


Please report all observations of suspected contaminants along the Green or Colorado Rivers downstream from the wash or within Canyonlands National Park to the BLM-Utah Moab Field Office or to the National Park Service. Please avoid physical contact and ingestion of water that is suspected of contamination and report your observations to the appropriate office with the following specific information:

 ·  Date and time of the observation
 ·  Location of the observation (e.g., river mile)
 ·  Nature of the observation (e.g., observed sheen, deposit, or odor)

More information on the spill incident can be found at the BLM-Utah Moab Field Office website: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/SaltWashSpill.html  

Did You Know?

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert bighorn sheep live year-round in Canyonlands. These animals make their home along the rivers, negotiating the steep, rocky talus slopes with ease. Once in danger of becoming extinct, desert bighorns are making a tentative comeback thanks to the healthy herds in Canyonlands. More...