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North Marina at Willard Bay State Park still closed due to diesel spill

WILLARD, Box Elder County — The North Marina and its campgrounds at Willard Bay State Park will remain closed through at least April 30 as more than 100 Chevron workers and contractors continue to clean up diesel fuel from a broken pipeline.

An estimated 600 barrels of fuel spilled March 18 as a result of a failure in the 8-inch pipeline buried in the wetlands at the state park outside of Willard, about 50 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Public access to the north section of the popular boating and fishing park was immediately closed, but the south section's campgrounds were opened early to accommodate early season campers, said state parks spokeswoman Deena Loyal.

Chevron said it has recovered 357 barrels of the diesel fuel from the wetlands area, which is 100 feet from the actual reservoir. Absorbent booms have been placed throughout the spill site to stop the fuel from spreading to the reservoir, which is prized among anglers for its population of walleye, wipers and channel cats.

Initially, the state Parks and Recreation Division was optimistic the area could be opened within a few days or a week after the spill, but the cleanup still has several weeks to go, Loyal said Friday.

"Easter weekend, we did miss some crowds," she added.

The North Marina features a larger boat launch than its southern counterpart, and the campground includes accommodations for tents.

Still, Loyal said the South Marina campground has full RV hookups and the boat launch has remained steady for visitors.

"We're doing as well as can be expected," she said.

Loyal said the state park has also shut down the northern half of the nearly 10,000-acre reservoir at the request of Chevron for fear that wakes from boating may cause damage to the absorbent booms keeping diesel from entering the bay.

The state Division of Water Quality is continuing to sample water on a daily basis and said that 49 of 69 samples taken in the reservoir outside the containment booms showed no detectable levels of diesel-related contaminants.

State wildlife biologists, too, are continuing to take part in monitoring the impacts of the spill on birds, mammals and aquatic species, with the wetlands proving tough to scrub of fuel.

So far, a family of six beavers has been rescued from the spill site and turned over to the care of volunteers at the Northern Utah Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Ogden. Three of the beavers are continuing to recover, while three others remain in rough shape, according to director DaLyn Erickson.


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