Oil From Pacific Fuel Fire Mostly Removed from Bear Creek

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and NEXGEN Logistics, LLC have collected and disposed of most of the recoverable oil released into and around Bear Creek during last Tuesday night’s fire at the Pacific Pride Commercial Fuel Station in Medford. 

While much of the oil that reached the creek and the streambank has been removed, cleanup work will continue for some time as crews will replace boom and tend to any possible accumulations. Crews are asking the public to stay at least 50 yards away from oiled areas near Hawthorne Park and the bike path to reduce stress on wildlife and allow for bird rescue teams to conduct their critical work. 

A relatively small amount of oil remains in streamside vegetation and soil, and the agencies have determined that removing these smaller deposits would likely damage habitat used by nesting ducks and geese, and other animals that use the vegetation. These deposits will either evaporate or slowly migrate into Bear Creek during rains and high-water events which will produce visible sheens for the next several weeks to a few months. 

ODFW biologists have been monitoring the impacted section of Bear Creek. At this time, no impacts to fish, including spawning or juvenile salmon and steelhead, have been seen. Biologists continue to look for delayed impacts to fish and wildlife such as future health, fitness, and reproductive success of various species. 

Some Canada geese and mallard ducks are being cared for by International Bird Rescue (IBR). Wildlife agencies advise the public to not approach or pick-up any oiled wildlife but to instead notify IBR at 707-689-3944 to ensure trained wildlife rehabilitation experts help oiled wildlife. 

The agencies and company have learned that additional petroleum product was released during the fire and estimate that over 20,000 gallons of various petroleum products — mostly lube oil — were released during the incident. There is no estimate of the amount of product consumed by the fire or released to the area and Bear Creek.

NEXGEN Logistics LLC, operates the Pacific Pride fuel depot in Medford that burned Tuesday night, is funding the significant response to the incident, including all wildlife rescue and recovery efforts. 

NOTE: A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN TRAFFIC CONTROL WILL OCCUR MONDAY EVENING. THE CURRENT DETOUR WILL BE ELIMINATED AND TRAFFIC WILL BE ABLE TO STAY ON CENTRAL WITH A SHORT DETOUR AROUND THE BURN AREA ON THE VERY SOUTH END OF CENTRAL. 

DRIVERS SHOULD EXPECT HEAVY CONGESTION IN THE AREA AND ARE ENCOURAGED TO TAKE ALTERNATE ROUTES.

Courtesy of State of Oregon

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