Utah environmental emergencies database goes online

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:32 PM

Antone Clark, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

SALT LAKE CITY – A new webpage designed to provide detailed information on environmental incidents in the Beehive state will allow the public greater access to up-to-date information on occurrences such as the Willard Bay oil spill earlier this year, state officials said.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Environmental Response and Remediation is launching a new database online that allows the public to access information about environmental incidents in their communities and also facilitates impacted agencies in those communities, to be more in tune with the process, according to Donna Kemp Spangler, communications director for the DEQ.

The public portion of the Environmental Incidents Database, http://eqspillsps.deq.utah.gov/, is designed to share incident information with the general public through a search on the webpage. Just as importantly, the website has a subscriber portion where agencies like local health departments and emergency responders can track the latest details on oil cleanups or other environmental mishaps, according to Spangler

Spangler said the website was not prompted by the Willard Bay incident or recent environmental incidents associated with Stericycle, a medical waste disposal company in North Salt Lake. She said the website will close the loop on keeping key people involved in environmental incident responses.

She gave an example of a recent incident at Strawberry Reservoir where the county hired a contractor to clean up an oil spill and the local health department was able to track whether the cleanup firm was following environmental standards.

“We need to be able to get that information to the DEQ and other agencies,” Spangler said.

Brett Everett, director of the environmental response division, said the right flow of information to the right sources makes a difference.“Access to this information helps local health departments and other agencies to better respond to environmental incidents in their jurisdictions,” Everett said.

A search of the database using Willard as the location details incidents dating back to 1996 and includes details of the March 18 spill of the Chevron Pipeline in the Box Elder community. The database also lists the responsible party, the chemical involved and the latest status of any potential cleanup.

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