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Warning issued to avoid waterways after diesel spill in Parleys Canyon

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – Health officials are warning people and their pets to avoid waterways in certain parts of Salt Lake County after a truck accident spilled hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel in Parleys Canyon on Thursday.

Environmental crews are working to clean up the spill after the truck lost control on Interstate 80. The Utah Highway Patrol reports the truck was traveling westbound on the highway just before 4 a.m. when it struck a knife-edge after hitting a stretch of wet road and crashing into a barrier.

The crash ruptured the truck’s fuel tanks, releasing approximately 150 gallons of diesel fuel. Hazmat crews were called to clean up the spill and pump out the remaining fuel in the truck.

Officials said the accident occurred beneath the Parleys water treatment plant and drinking water quality was not affected.

“We were made aware of it by people at Tanner’s Park where they first smelled it and saw the sheen on the water,” said Salt Lake City Fire Department Capt. Brandt Hancuff. “We had crews come downstream into Sugar House Park, where we started to see an entrance into Sugar House Park.”

Captain Hancuff says they have placed absorbent barriers in the water at both locations in hopes of mitigating the problem and preventing it from moving downstream.

“I want to emphasize that this will not have any impact on water quality as far as drinking water in Salt Lake City is concerned,” said Captain Hancuff.

Officials with the Salt Lake County Health Department told FOX 13 News on Thursday that the concern now is how the water could affect both animals and children.

“If they were to drink they could get sick, they could start vomiting. We don’t want to get it on their paws and you know, animals love their paws. We don’t want kids getting it on their hands and eating their lunch , can make someone sick,” said Dan Moore, Salt Lake County Health Department enforcement coordinator.

An advisory was issued to avoid waterways at Sugar House Park, Hidden Hollow Park and Tanner Dog Park.

“We’re also concerned about the ducks and as you know at this time of year a lot of duck eggs are hatching and at Sugar House Park that’s a big event where all the young are about to come out so the parks department is that, we are very concerned about that and we are on top of it,” said Moore.

The Salt Lake County Health Department and the Utah Division of Water Quality have been sampling waters in the potentially affected areas.

“We expect the samples back anywhere from three to 10 days and then we will have to coordinate those samples between the different agencies,” Moore said.

Mike Foster spends a lot of time at Sugar House Park with his dog Joel.

“We walk here probably every day, yeah, once or twice a day,” Foster said.

Foster learned of the advisory at the park when FOX 13 News spoke with him Thursday.

“It is of course extremely important to be aware of that,” says Foster.

He says he’s going to make sure Joel stays safe on their daily walks in the park.

“I’m going to follow through now that I know and not let him in the water to drink or, you know, cool off or anything until I hear a warning that it’s okay to do so,” Foster said.

Salt Lake County Health Department officials say they will leave the absorbent barriers in place until there is no more fuel to collect.

Later Thursday, the Salt Lake County Health Department said a fuel sheen was seen on the water at Sugar House Park and Tanner Park, along with “noticeable” fuel odors at Hidden Hollow Park. An advisory has been issued for people and pets to avoid waterways in the following areas:

  • Sugar House Park
  • Hidden Hollow Park
  • Parley Historic Parks (Tanner Dog Park)

The health department and the Utah Division of Water Quality have sampled water in the affected areas, but results are not yet available.

Although two lanes of I-80 were initially closed following the crash, all lanes are now open. It is expected that staff will remain on site for the rest of the day to continue the cleaning work.

No one was injured in the accident and no other vehicles were involved.