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GRASS VALLEY, Calif. February 5, 2018 – Although there is no indication fuel or oil reached the Bear River, the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) continues to monitor water flows for possible contaminants following a Jan. 31 fatal head-on collision between a tow truck and a tanker truck that occurred on Highway 20, west of Interstate 80 near Bear Valley.
The accident caused an explosion, fire and diesel fuel spill near the river. NID crews promptly responded on site along with first responders. While most of the tanker fuel was consumed by the explosion and fire, emergency crews were concerned that fuel-laden runoff could reach the Bear River, which is largely controlled by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and NID delivery flows. As a precautionary measure and at the request of California Fish and Wildlife, PG&E ceased water deliveries into the Bear River and Drum Canal.
NID helped to provide emergency spill equipment, including temporary floating barrier booms used to contain spills and concentrate oil in layers so that it can be safely collected and removed. The absorbent booms were placed along the roadside drainage and in multiple locations along the Bear River.
There has been no indication at this time that any fuel or oil entered the Drum Canal or the Bear River. NID crews will continue to monitor and assess water quality over the next week to ensure the water within the Bear River remains safe.
“At this point there is no indication that fuel contamination is making its way down the Bear River. However we will continue to monitor water quality in the area until the cleanup reaches a point where the spill no longer poses a threat. Our commitment is to our water source and protection of the watershed. My condolences go out to the families of this tragic accident,” said Chip Close, NID Water Operations Manager.