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McKenzie River reopens following oil spill

The Hendrick's Bridge and Bellinger boat ramps opened Friday and the Hayden boat ramp will open on Saturday.

Posted: Mar 30, 2018 6:15 PM
Updated: Mar 30, 2018 6:20 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore., -- Officials from the Department of Environmental Quality said the cleanup from the oil spill on the McKenzie River is complete and several boat ramps have reopened.

The Hendrick's Bridge and Bellinger boat ramps opened Friday and the Hayden boat ramp will open on Saturday. Even though the boat ramps are open, officials said boaters should still be cautious because there could still be equipment on the river.

Officials from D.E.Q. said crews with International Paper finished the cleanup of the interior pipe Thursday and were able to test the flow of the pipe to make sure it wasn't leaking. Officials said the tests went well and D.E.Q. gave the company clearance to resume normal operations. 

Katherine Benenati, a D.E.Q. spokesperson, said they will continue to monitor the area to make sure there are no issues moving forward.
She said at this time, they are not aware of any lasting environmental impacts. 

"I appreciate everyone's patience, the D.E.Q. appreciates everyone's patience, and we know these cleanups can take a while but we wanted to make sure it was done right," Benenati said.

Mike Brinkley, a fisherman at the Hendrick's Bridge ramp, said he was disappointed to see the ramps closed because it is a good time of the year to fish, but said he's excited to see the cleanup complete.

"It's wonderful, it's a perfect day and we are ready to go," Brinkley said.  "So I'm looking forward to a nice, beautiful day of fishing."

Officials said that now that the cleanup is under control, they can begin an investigation to determine if the spill could have been prevented and if there will be any repercussions for the company.

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