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Oil mist temporarily closes park after incident at refinery in Salt Lake City

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Posted at 9:45 PM, Apr 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-24 23:45:52-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- An incident at the Tesoro Refinery in Salt Lake City left a coating of oil all over a local park Friday.

Warm Springs Park was temporarily closed as emergency crews worked to remove oil from the lawn and facilities. According to the refinery, the oil release occurred after an equipment malfunction late Thursday night, but they did not realize it had spread past their facility until the morning.

“Anytime we hear of an infrastructure failure, as we did this morning, we are greatly concerned,” Salt Lake City spokesman Art Raymond said.

The city was notified of what happened around 7:00 a.m. Friday. Tesoro described the leak as a “faint oil mist” that was carried into the park and surrounding area.

While the incident is still under investigation, Tesoro officials said they believe a pressure release valve in one of its units failed to work properly, causing the oil to shoot out.

According to residents, alarms at the plant started ringing Thursday evening.

“I had a friend that heard these alarms around 8:30-9:00 o’clock last night. Being as quiet as it is at that time, he could hear them saying, ‘Emergency, evacuate,’” said resident Steven Kaufman.

Tesoro placed barriers in certain areas around the park to ensure that all oil was removed from water before it entered any storm drains. While the company denied FOX 13 News' request for an interview, they did send the following list of questions and answers.

Has this leak impacted public water sources?
We are visually monitoring public water sources and there is no indication that they have been impacted. We have deployed containment and absorbent booms to prevent oil from entering the storm drain system. There is no evidence of contamination of drinking water sources.

How are you responding to this incident?
Containment booms have been deployed to prevent oil from entering the storm water system. Crews have thoroughly cleaned the oil from all facilities within the park and are mowing the grass.

What impacts will oil mist have on the environment?
We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the protection of our neighbors and the environment. Impacted property will be cleaned as necessary.

How did this happen?
An investigation into the cause of this incident is in progress.

How long will it take to clean up?
We are working with Salt Lake City and County to determine what actions are necessary.
Anyone in the vicinity who has noticed oil drops on their cars or other property or have questions should call the Tesoro Community Hotline at 801-606-2200.