THE DALLES, Ore. – A semitrailer carrying a herbicide crashed and caught fire Tuesday, spilling the chemical into a Columbia River tributary and posing a threat to endangered salmon.
About 3,000 gallons of the household herbicide “Goal” leaked into Fifteenmile Creek and its surrounding soil Tuesday at a spot about a quarter-mile from where it empties into the Columbia, turning that part of the creek white.
The herbicide killed several hundred juvenile lamprey, and other dead fish also were found there, said Ann Pressentin, spokeswoman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“It is suspected that anything in the creek is most likely dead,” said Heidi Helwig of the Army Corps of Engineers.
Hazardous-waste experts put up a boom and an overflow dam to try to keep the herbicide from entering the Columbia. But some of the chemical has seeped into the river.
Pressentin said the spill could threaten two fall Chinook salmon species and three steelhead species, although none had been found dead as of late Tuesday.
She said the herbicide – oxyfluorfen – could also pose a threat to sturgeon in the Columbia since the fish are bottom-feeders and the herbicide will sink.
Police have cited the driver, James Shreve, 37, of Union City, Pa., with careless driving.