50 Birds Covered In Oil After Spill In Sunnyside - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

50 Birds Covered In Oil After Spill In Sunnyside

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SUNNYSIDE, WA- A wildlife rehabilitation organization is in the Sunnyside area dealing with Sunday's motor oil spill.

It all started at a former feed lot just north of Interstate 82, west of Sunnyside. The older, above ground storage tank failed, leaving a mess that could take weeks or even months to be cleaned up.

Bob Murray has lived across from Sulphur Creek since 1990. "Why anybody was allowed to have that tank anywhere close to a stream, that should be illegal. You got to put up a barrier around it, concrete or something," explained Murray.

Under state law, property owners are responsible for maintaining tanks, much like the one that dumped oil into Sulphur Creek and the Yakima River.

"We don't know if this oil tank, was a legacy tank, that was there when it was a feed lot. It was next to a large outbuilding, so it could have been, a part of the feed lot operation," said Joye Redfield-Wilder with the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Those landowners are cooperating with officials, as water all the way to Prosser is threatened.

"They say it's plumbed down to Prosser by now. That's not that much water for as much water's going down. 99% of that oil stays right on top. I hope it doesn't hurt the migrating birds. the fish, their spawning at the bottom," explained Murray.

Despite many saying this could have been worse if it were irrigation season, the cleanup all depends on how far the oil has spread.

On Tuesday, as many as 50 birds were found covered in oil. 

The clean up, "Depends on how the oil has spread. Whether it's gotten into the gravel and soil, into some of the wetland areas where it might be difficult to clean up," said Redfield-Wilder.

If you happen to see wildlife covered in oil, do not try to capture them yourself. The birds are under stress and authorities are asking to you to call 1-800-22BIRDS.

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PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

SUNNYSIDE, WA.- An oil spill in Sunnyside on Sunday has left crews scrambling to clean up the mess.

It's been over 24 hours since 1,500 gallons of used motor oil was spilled into Sulphur Creek, but you can still see the rainbow discoloration drifting down the creek and into the Yakima River.

An above ground storage tank at a former feed lot failed Sunday afternoon, causing the oil to spill into the creek.

The rainbow like discoloration on the water could be seen as far away as Prosser.

The State Department of Ecology told us spills like these are always a serious issue, but if it had happened during irrigation season it could have been catastrophic.

“We haven't started irrigating any fields yet and as far as I know we don't have any fish migrating right now, but you know at a different time of the year this could've been catastrophic,” Department of Ecology's Joye Redfield-Wilder explained.

The Department of Ecology has hired an environmental clean up company to start cleaning up the spill; they brought in vacuum trucks to begin removing the oil.

We spoke to one Sunnyside man who lives right next to Sulphur Creek; he told us he was shocked by how much oil had spilled into the creek.

“I've seen salmon passing by here before so it's going to be pretty rough on the fish and the growers too since they use the creek to feed their cows,” Augustin Delgado said.

The Department of Ecology says their next step is to make sure they can recover as much of the oil as possible and further investigate who is responsible for the spill. 

“The next steps will be to make sure that there is a good clean up and that the responsible people will be held accountable and that we can recover as much of the oil as we can,” Redfield-Wilder told us. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has set up a hotline for people to report animals affected by the spill.
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