Greeley Mystery Sheen

Site Contact:
Martin McComb
On Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
1100 10th Street
Greeley, CO 80631
NRC#: 1319320

The City of Greeley Fire Department responded to a fire along the Cache la Poudre in Colorado during the evening of 10/12/2021. During that effort, the Fire Department noticed a diesel-smelling sheen approximately 30 feet wide and 1 mile long in the river both upstream and downstream of the fire's location.  The City of Greeley Office of Emergency Management (OEM) notified the NRC and the Fire Department placed boom in the river downstream before it became too dark and rainy to safely continue work.

EPA Response OSC and START contractors arrived on-site the morning of 10/13/2021 and entered into Unified Command with OEM. EPA's OSC witnessed sheen in the river at the booming location and at several backwater locations along the river. START and Greeley Fire HazMat Team searched the river banks for a source of the sheen while the City of Greeley Public Works searched storm water outfalls in the area. Although sheen in the river was greatly reduced from what had been observed the night before, a single deceased frog was discovered. No other impacts to wildlife were observed.

The combined Team was able to identify the source of the sheen as a dumping location along the river bank. No visible product was observed in the river at the dumping location but the area is releasing a small amount of sheen. EPA placed containment and recovery boom around the dumping location on 10/14/2021. The Team then removed contaminated soil from the bank, flushed the area with water and recovered sheen to the extent practical with absorbent material. 

Boom originally placed in the river by Greeley Fire was removed from the river during the afternoon of 10/13/2021. Containment and recovery boom placed in the river by EPA during its flushing of the dumping location was removed on 10/14/2021. Remnant sheen from the spill can still be observed in backwater areas but the OSC determined that it is not recoverable. EPA will continue to monitor the river.


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