SALT LAKE CITY — Concerned property owners from neighborhoods near Red Butte Creek met Thursday to discuss lingering health effects and impending legal action as a result of a Chevron oil spill that occurred one year ago.
Organizers spoke to a small group of residents about taking action, including petitions to local and state government to hold Chevron accountable for cleaning the affected areas and establishing funds to provide for extensive water quality studies and health testing.
Zach Frankel, a co-founder of the community response committee and executive director of the Utah Rivers Council, said there has been an unsatisfactory level of examination performed to determine what state the creek is in.
"We need to know how much oil remains in the system," Frankel said. "Until we have that answer, no one can say what cleanup should be."
The committee's other co-founder, Peter Hayes, spoke to the group about testing the Division of Water Quality had performed on his property, which found high amounts of lingering carcinogens. Among other things, the testing showed high levels of benzo(a)pyrene and benza(a)nthracene which, he said, can be absorbed through the skin and cause some forms of cancer.
"They know that material of this nature is in the creek," Hayes said. "Certainly, it's going to be found elsewhere."
Dr. Brian Moench said he recently sent a letter signed by more than 20 area medical doctors to Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker, alerting them to the potential health effect to exposed residents and petitioning for a $2 million fund for a health study.
"It is of the utmost importance to the public interest that patients exposed to these spills be adequately cared for in the coming years and we believe Utah's elected officials have an important role to play in ensuring this occurs," the letter states.
The letter was addressed June 1 and Moench said he had yet to hear any response.
The spill occurred on June 11, 2010, when a pipeline fracture sent an estimated 20,000 gallons of crude oil into the creek, which flowed down into the pond at Liberty Park.