Wednesday May 25, 2022

Lost Coast Outpost

Gobs of oily tar continue to slip past containment booms and drain into the Smith River, nearly a month after an overturned trailer spilled 2,000 gallons of the hot asphalt binder onto U.S. 199 between Hiouchi and Gasquet.

Spokesperson Eric Laughlin with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response confirmed with the Outpost that the toxic goop is actively leaking into the Smith River, and that the agency received new reports of the material traveling downstream on Friday.

“It looks like the cleanup is going to resume this week in areas where the spill happened, but that’s not going to be the extent of the cleanup,” Laughlin said. “We’re committed to a comprehensive cleanup effort.”

A key problem in the cleanup process has been the consistency of the tar, which fluctuates with the day’s changing temperatures. Laughlin said that this presents an atypical cleanup job for contractors, who will have to find another way to trap the fickle substance.

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