A 1,500 gallon tank holding old used motor oil that that began leaking Sunday has triggered the largest water cleanup effort in the Yakima Valley in 17 years.

Officials with the Department of Ecology, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  and other cleanup firms say the oil began running from the tank over the weekend.  It's  located on land that was formerly a cattle feedlot. According to the Yakima Herald-Republic, the family who owns the land is fully cooperating with authorities, and spokesman Luke Deaton said they will do "whatever we need to get it done."

The above ground tank is believed to have leaked the oil into an underground drain system that fed into Sulpher Creek, which empties into the Yakima River near Mabton. The oil, which left a visible sheen on the surface of the water, traveled about 10 miles through irrigation canals and drainages,  then about 14 miles down the Yakima River.  It was spotted as far South as Prosser.

Crews have been using booms, sweeps and large sponge devices to suck up as much of the oil as possible.  It's estimated at least 1,500 gallons were spilled, and could take weeks to fully remove.  Officials have alerted growers in the affected areas to keep and eye on their irrigation, and a fish hatchery near Prosser is on alert. No reports have been made so far if any wildlife was harmed by the spill, which is the first in the Lower Valley in 17 years.

The tank is located on what is known as the former Monson Feedlot on Outlook Road near Sunnyside.


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