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UPDATE: Salt Wash Oil Spill
May 22, 2014 Press Release 

Moab, Utah—On the morning of May 21, 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 1-70, 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.  With regulators on site from the BLM, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SW Energy worked to contain the spill and attempted to shut-in the well.  Containment and back up berms were put in place to slow and capture the fluid, much of which has been removed by vacuum trucks and disposed of in a state approved disposal facility.  SW Energy successfully shut-in the well at approximately 1:20 p.m. on May 22.  


“The BLM is taking this matter very seriously.  We are working cooperatively with SW Energy, the State and EPA to assess the extent of the spill and will work on assessing impacts to natural resources” said Juan Palma, BLM-Utah State Director.  “We were able to catch this incident and act quickly to contain the leak and minimize the impacts to the environment.”


The BLM, Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining, and oil and gas operators inspect sites regularly, which enables the BLM to take immediate corrective actions when events like this occur.   


The BLM will continue to provide updates as damage assessments are completed and corrective action plans are prepared and implemented.  

Backhoe Performing Remediation

Dump Truck Removing Material

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Joint BLM/NPS Notice to Boaters 
on Green River and Colorado River 
Below the Confluence


Salt Wash Oil Spill Incident Map

Salt Wash Oil Spill Incident Map

May 30, water quality sampling

 Earlier Images

Date 2014 Comments

May 21 

Morning: SW Energy notified the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Moab Field Office of leaking oil well south of I-70, approximately 12 miles southeast of the town of Green River, Utah.   

BLM dispatched technical staff to investigate and assist with containment of the leaking fluids.   

Afternoon: Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining inspector arrived on site and assisted, providing notifications to appropriate authorities and stakeholders.

SW Energy contracted an emergency spill response company, which arrived on scene and continued cleanup efforts under the coordination of agency specialists. 

Evening: BLM worked with SW Energy and other regulators through the night to stop the flow and contain the spill. 

Containment and back up berms put in place to slow and capture fluid to be removed by three vacuum trucks. Captured fluids transported to approved disposal facility at Danish Flats. 

SW Energy mobilized a well service contractor to control the well and repair the failed valve. 

May 22

Morning: Additional technical staff dispatched to assess potential impacts and make recommendations for any necessary corrective actions. 

Environmental Protection Agency specialists arrived to assist in containment and cleanup effort. 

Afternoon: Well successfully shut in by SW Energy at 1:20 p.m.  

Repairs to the failed valve completed.

Evening: Investigation of potential resource damage ongoing.

May 23

Today: SW Energy has clean-up and remediation crews who will continue working onsite throughout the weekend.

The BLM is monitoring the clean-up and remediation efforts and is taking steps to assess resources that may have been impacted by the event.

In light of the area weather forecast for rainfall, clean-up crews put prevention measures into place. Measures included placing absorbent materials in the drainage to prevent further movement of oil and contaminated sediment, pumping all fluids out of the retention pond and building an underflow structure in the pond containment wall to allow excess water to flow under the wall while keeping oil afloat above.

May 24

Today: On Friday night, intense thundershower activity overcame prevention measures and mobilized oil and some surface contaminants covering rocks and soil in the wash. The mobilized oil and surface contaminants entered the Green River. The exact quantity of mobilized oil and surface contaminants that entered the Green River is unknown. 

Clean-up crews constructed a second underflow structure to protect against further migration of oil or surface contaminants in the event of another thunderstorm.  

Clean-up crews continued working to contain and remove oil and surface contaminants within the wash.

May 25

Today:  A Federal on-scene coordinator from the Environmental Protection Agency arrived onsite to assist with ongoing efforts.  

Clean-up crews continued working to contain and remove oil and surface contaminants within the wash.

Clean-up crews expect to begin removing oil from the pad later today or early tomorrow.

May 26

Today: The second underflow structure constructed in the wash on Saturday successfully retained rainwater and oil after the Sunday evening storm.

Absorbent waddles placed in the wash and near the river captured a small amount of oil below the underflow structure; it is believed that these absorbent materials were successful in preventing additional oil from moving into the river. Clean-up crews removed the oil retained in this underflow structure today.

Clean-up crews began removing oil from the well pad today. Contaminated soil is being removed from the pond that was created just below the pad and from the ground between the pond and the pad.

May 27

Today: Clean-up and remediation efforts continued at both the pad site and in the wash.

May 28

Today: Clean-up crews continued remediation efforts at the pad site and in the wash.

BLM resource specialists as well as representatives from UDOGM, UDEQ, and the operator

were on site to assess clean-up efforts and potential resource damage.

May 29

Today: UDOGM and BLM were on site to assist the operator in the continuing clean-up efforts and assess progress.


Removal of contaminated material from the pad area is nearly complete. Hand crews are focusing on the areas of wash that are inaccessible to equipment. A temporary access route is being constructed to bring equipment to upper portions of the wash in order to remove contaminated soil. 

BLM has arranged for technical staff and representatives from Utah Department of Environmental Quality to travel the river tomorrow to assess potential impacts and collect water samples.   
May 30

Today:  The removal of contaminated material from the pad and adjacent area is mostly complete. Small equipment is being used to remove contaminated soils in the upper part of the wash.

Hand crews are focusing clean-up efforts in lower and hard to reach sections of the wash. Many areas below ledges and pour offs were still unsafe for ladders due to soft mud and water. Crew safety is a priority especially given hot conditions, rugged terrain, and long work hours. 
Utah State Parks provided a boat and staff to facilitate a team, including hydrologists from BLM and UDEQ, to travel from Green River State Park (upstream of the spill) to Mineral Bottom (approximately 50 river miles downstream of the spill).
The crew stopped to observe eddies, backwaters, wash confluences, and debris piles. They closely examined floating debris, foam, and stream banks looking for evidence of hydrocarbons. UDEQ collected samples that will be analyzed specifically for hydrocarbons. Although there was little physical evidence of contamination, the team is reviewing its findings. An update will be provided as soon as possible. 

May 31- June 1

BLM and UDOGM were on site each day to oversee the ongoing clean-up and remediation efforts and assess progress.

June 2

BLM, UDOGM, EPA, and the Operator met on site to assess the progress of the ongoing clean-up and remediation efforts.

June 3

BLM, UDOGM, EPA, and the Operator were on site overseeing the ongoing clean-up and remediation efforts. Clean-up and remediation on the well pad, upper containment ponds, and upper ¼ of the wash is nearly completed. Heavy equipment is being utilized for clean-up in several sections of the wash.
The BLM and NPS worked cooperatively to issue a notice to boaters -Joint BLM/NPS Notice to Boaters on Green River and Colorado River Below the Confluence. 

June 4-6

BLM was on site each day to check-in on the ongoing clean-up and remediation efforts.

June 9
Crews completed clean up in upper and central sections of the drainage. Clean up work continued in lower sections. Inspection by BLM and operator identified a few spots needing additional work prior to final inspection.

June 11

BLM, UDOGM, and UDEQ conducted a final inspection of clean up and interim remediation work. BLM approved the work with concurrence of other agencies.


The well operator and BLM will continue monitoring the wash and surrounding areas, for changes in conditions that might require additional clean up. Some retention structures and booms will remain in place as preventative measure​s, until monitoring indicates they are no longer needed​.

Final reclamation is planned for this fall. Late autumn is a better season for restoration and seeding.

Investigations into the well's downhole conditions continue. A report summarizing the incident and steps taken to resolve the issue is underway.