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Pocatello Creek Oil Release

Site Contact:
Stephen Ball
On-Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
3770 Pole Line Road
Building #37
Pocatello, ID 83201
NRC#: 1351649

Overview:  At approximately 0900 Pacific Daylight Time on 3 November 2022, EPA was notified by Idaho Department of Environmental Quality of a sheen they were investigating on Pocatello Creek, a tributary to the Portneuf River, in Pocatello, Idaho. The source of the sheen was unknown but suspected to be an unreported release from a facility within the stormwater catchment area that discharges to Pocatello Creek. IDEQ requested EPA assistance with the response and investigation.


State, Local and other Federal Agency Actions:  Late in the afternoon of 2 November, Pocatello Fire and IDEQ responded to reports of a sheen on Pocatello Creek. Pocatello Fire placed a sorbent boom in Pocatello Creek near the confluence with the Portneuf River and began investigating potential sources upgradient. Heavier sheen was observed in a manhole near a facility that handles transformer oils. Due to darkness and an inability to locate a facility manager, the investigation was suspended for the evening.


EPA Actions:  This incident is EPA jurisdiction. OSCs Vanderboom and Ball are responding at the request of IDEQ.


EPA OSCs arrived on scene at about 1700 local time, 3 November. Upon arrival, it became apparent that a significant amount of clear mineral oil was released with product observed throughout the storm drain system and in Pocatello Creek. Oil is ¼ to ½ inch thick on the creek in places. Contact was made with the suspected responsible party, Virginia Transformer, but they have been unable to hire a cleanup contractor. OSCs Ball and Vanderboom worked with local responders throughout the evening to set several lines of containment boom in Pocatello Creek. EPA mobilized both technical assistance (START) and cleanup contractor support (ERRS) which began arriving on scene early on 4 November 2022. Rain is predicted over the coming days, so crews are setting additional containment booms in Pocatello Creek and the Portneuf River. Collection/recovery operations will commence as soon as those resources arrive on scene.