February 22, 2012
Find A Spill or a Fish Kill? Get This Card And Know Who To Call
By Tim Romano
A number of months ago Hal Herring reported on the "Toxic Petroleum Sludge" that was infiltrating the waters of our beloved carp fishery here on the South Platte River in Denver. Local angler and fly fisherman Trevor Taner was fishing for carp in the river on November 27 when he noticed, "weird milky chocolaty sludge", and after fishing for a while noticed his "fly and fingers smelled like gasoline". He also mentioned that he could "see micro-currents and upwells in the water column that you usually can't see."
After talking to Tanner he told me that he spent a very long time trying to figure out who to call about the situation. After multiple phone calls to friends and anglers he finally reached what he thought were the proper authorities. This unfortunately took many hours and didn't really provide the response he had hoped for. They basically told him he was crazy and there wasn't a spill.
Long story short, Trevor was right. There was a pretty serious petroleum "spill" and it was most certainly in the river. Leeching into a tributary of the Platte through layers of soil and sand. It was most likely coming from a local refinery on the east banks of the river. The EPA finally got involved and to my knowledge the cleanup continues.
All of this would have been made much, much easier for Trevor if he knew who to call. Now -- thanks to him I do, and I wanted to share it with all of you. Since the event Trevor was given an award by his local Trout Unlimited chapter and they also did a pressing of some "Spill or Kill Cards" in his honor. Spill for well, a spill of any kind. Kill, for a -- fish kill. You know, lots-o-dead bloated little fishies floating belly up in the water. Duh.
The business sized card fits in a wallet and has the National Spill Response Center's phone number (800-424-8802) as well as the twitter hashtag of other local TU members that can keep them up to speed on what's going on. The National Spill Response Center's duty is the "sole federal point of contact for reporting oil and chemical spills". Supposedly it is the fastest way to get something done if you have an experience like what Trevor went through and have the gumption to do something about it.
So do you and your watershed, lake or coastline a favor and pop that number above into your phone's contact list. Label it something that you'll remember and hopefully never have to use. Someday you might be very happy you did.