State Department of Ecology officials have found no traces of contaminants in the Hoquiam River following a light oil spill, though the water is not completely clean, officials said.
A Coast Guard incident management team responded to the spill Feb. 14 after receiving reports of a sheen on the river’s surface near the Harbor Paper Mill. The Coast Guard, in conjunction with the departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife, along with the Grays Harbor Public Utility District, is investigating.
As one of the leaseholders of the mill site, the PUD is helping clean up after the spill. The district hasn’t taken responsibility for the spill, spokesman Ian Cope said, and tests to determine the cause remain ongoing.
“Our contractors immediately stopped the demolition work and started work on containment and clean up of the site,” Cope said. “At this point, we don’t know the source of the oil.”
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Tests so far haven’t shown any signs of contaminants, though the waters where the spill happened have not been deemed completely clean as of Wednesday afternoon, Department of Ecology spokeswoman Lisa Copeland said.
The department, she added, was especially concerned about polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs — toxic chemicals found in electrical transformers and other equipment found near the paper mill, where the spill originated.
“We were a little worried there might be some PCBs in there because they’re demolishing and dismantling that plant,” Copeland said. “So we thought there may be some electrical components (in the river).”
The spill, Copeland said, was a mixture of diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid and other lubricants. The department will have a better understanding of what was in the spill following the tests.