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Possible petroleum spill found near Boise River

Posted: 5:29 PM, Mar 02, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-02 23:46:37-05

The Boise Greenbelt is underdoing some growing pains.

As crews start to tear up the riverbank to extend the Greenbelt from Garden City to Americana through the industrialized West End, it’s no surprise that things would be uncovered from a different era.

Just below the intersection of Main and Garden Street and less than 200 feet from the Boise River is a hole lined with rotting cinder blocks uncovered by excavation crews. On top of the cinder blocks is a drainage pipe that is allowing run-off into the hole, although it’s unclear exactly where the pipe is draining from.

Inside of the hole is water which has a visible sheen of oil.

The Department of Environmental Quality is aware of the issue and admits that the water does have an odor.

The Idaho Transportation Department took a soil sample and sent it off to the lab for further analysis and the DEQ admits that there is a possibility of petroleum in the area but aren’t sure until the lab results return.

“We believe—although not certain yet—that it is old petroleum from an old septic system in the area,” Dean Ehlert from the DEQ explained.

“This is an old area and we are taking the steps now to learn what was in the area and move forward with remediation,” ITD Spokeswoman Jennifer Gonzalez explained.

The proximity of the water to the Boise River is a concern for Idaho Rivers United Conservation Director Kevin Lewis.

“They haven’t contained anything. It has been excavated down to the level of the sump. There’s some perimeter of concrete blocks in there but with the oily water and everything else, it’s not exposed.” Lewis explained. “

ITD was adamant that the construction will continue on this project. That is at least until they get those results back and find out what the substance is.

The major concern is how the ITD wants to remedy the situation and what the plan of action should be for dealing with the water and the drainage pipe.

Lewis explained that the project could cost ITD a lot more money in the long run if they refuse to clean up the area and are at a crossroads in deciding what should occur next in the area.

6 On Your Side will continue to bringing you this story it develops.