Cleanup is underway across Dubuque County, IA, that could take months to remediate after a leak from a large diesel storage tank, officials said.
The leak happened at a BP storage facility off Old Highway Road near Peosta, IA.
BP was able to contain most of the leak, but more than 20,000 gallons may have spilled out into a nearby creek, said staffers at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The leak came from one of the storage tanks, which can hold 2.5 million gallons of diesel at a time.
Tom McCarthy, an environmental specialist with the Iowa DNR, confirmed 20,500 gallons was unaccounted from when they were notified of the spill.
“They’ve contained most of the spill on site. Some of the spill did go into Catfish Creek,” McCarthy said.
Catfish Creek covers 57 square miles across Dubuque County, and is a well-protected watershed by multiple groups- including the Catfish Creek Watershed Management Authority.
McCarthy explained the cleanup process includes five “boom sites” that control the flow of the water on the creek, as well as collect the diesel on the surface of the water into storage units without getting waterlogged. From there, the diesel is put into tanks.
There have been smaller-scale incident members of the Dubuque County Conservation Board have experienced in the past.
Executive Director Brian Preston said they discovered a diesel spill in a nearby trout stream when people tasted something weird.
“The folks called us and report that their trout tasted like diesel fuel,” Preston said. “We found that really odd.”
Preston said upon investigation, there was diesel in the stream, which took a while for them to clean up. But he said the lasting effects could be on how long it takes before the fish and the rest of the creek are able to get back to normal.
“I think it’ll take a couple weeks or months for the diesel to pass through their system,” Preston said.
As far as a timeline on how long the cleanup will take, McCarthy said he was still uncertain.
“The cleanup’s going to take some time,” McCarthy said.