Tests show no source for sheen seen in underground streams

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Water managers in Salt Lake City say test results reveal no link, so far, between a sheen found on water running through several east bench properties a few blocks north of Red Butte Creek and the Chevron oil spill into that stream. Still, the source of the sheen is mystery.

Residents in some homes just west of East High School have water coming up from underground springs, flowing through their yards. They first became concerned when they noticed the sheen on that water, and they alerted the city.

"[We're] anxiously waiting to see what they have to say," says resident Holly Parkin.

The city's Department of Public Utilities says tests of more than a dozen sites near the homes reporting sheen find no link to the Chevron spill.

"To date, the sampling has not found any oils from petroleum or gasoline or anything else we believe is a public health concern," says Tom Ward, deputy director of the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities.

Tests uphill from the homes, conducted by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, did find a gasoline leak from an underground storage tank at a Tesoro station at 900 South 1300 East. But so far, tests show the gasoline hasn't migrated far.

"This one, I don't see any evidence that it's gone beyond the property boundaries where we're at on the Tesoro site," says Mike Pecorelli, environmental specialists with the state Department of Environmental Quality.

So, the source of the sheen is still a mystery. More tests are in the works to solve it.

"You can get that from decaying organic matter; and those springs are kind of slow-moving, kind of pond water, so it's possible it might just be natural organic matter decaying there," Ward says.

"It makes me a little bit easier thinking that there's no definite connection," Parkin said, "but I'd definitely be interested in seeing what other tests have to say."

KSL News tried to reach a representative from Tesoro Monday night but was unsuccessful.

The state says it expects test results back later this week. The city says the latest round of test results should be in within the next week or two.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com---

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