SALT LAKE CITY — Impatient for answers, frustrated by the smell and already tired of the sludge that is collecting on their property, hundreds of residents gathered Monday night as a show of force to Chevron, demanding a quick but thorough cleanup of Saturday's oil spill.

"How long will it be before I can swim in the river again?" one little red-haired girl asked.

A town hall meeting at Clayton Middle School gave the public its first opportunity to alternately vent and then seek assurances from the company that it would be responsive to its pipeline break over the weekend.

The fracture sent an estimated 33,000 gallons of crude oil into Red Butte Creek and Liberty Park's pond. Some of the oil has also made its way to the Jordan River, where Chevron officials said they had doubled their response Monday.

Brian Tucker, from the company's Houston office, assured residents that the cleanup will be handled as expediently as possible, but not at the risk of doing it wrong.

"We're going to have qualified, trained people who do this right for the safety of our personnel and the environment," Tucker said, drawing some applause.

He said an 18-segment remediation plan that includes a whole "suite" of decontamination and oil removal mechanisms is already ramping up the number of personnel the company has on the spill.

"We had 112 here this weekend, 140 here today and we will have 140 (Tuesday)," Tucker said.

A Chevron informational sheet said that, so far, 9,100 feet of absorbent boom has been placed in various oil-impacted areas and seven vacuum trucks are being used.

State water quality officials had anticipated results of water sampling would be ready at the meeting, but those results were still pending. Walt Baker, water quality division director, said that while Liberty Park's pond is akin to an oil slick, he anticipates the results to show far less severe impact to the river.

The meeting included rotating "break-out" sections organized by topics of concern to residents — such as water quality, rehabilitation of injured wildlife, property damage claims and questions about how long the cleanup process will take.

Tucker conceded he lacked concrete answers at this time, predicting total removal of the soil and sludge from affected soils and habitat would be a lengthy process that will take weeks and months.

He also warned residents that as the rainy days fade into the heat of summer, the inconvenience of the spill will grow.

"As the days get warmer, that oil is going to evaporate and the smell is probably going to get worse before it gets better," Tucker said.

e-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com