John Day Dam turbine spills oil into Columbia

Portland, Ore. – A turbine at John Day Dam in eastern Oregon spilled less than 25 gallons of oil into the Columbia River, Jan. 13. Crewmembers were performing maintenance on the unit and observed the spill after they restarted the system.

The sheen was small, dissipated quickly and the crew could not recover any oil. Technicians secured the unit, and identified the leak came from a failed turbine guide bearing cooling unit. The unit remains out of service and isolated from the river. 

Portland District is investigating the spill to determine the cause of the failure and the actual quantity of oil discharged. The amount is likely less than reported.

Corps officials notified partner agencies, including National Response Center, Oregon and Washington emergency management offices and the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission.