Smith River Highway 199 diesel spill clean up

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In 2008, an accident involving a diesel truck released 4000 gallons of red-dyed diesel fuel into an inboard ditch along Highway 199 in Del Norte County, CA. Diesel fuel soaked the ground through the road prism and into the gravel bar adjacent to Smith River, a federally-designated wild and scenic river. GHD was selected to lead the emergency response, including efforts to contain the spilled diesel and prevent impacts to the Smith River.

This project was challenging due to the steep forested slopes, the urgency of cleanup and the magnitude of the spill. Our team worked with nine contractors and 12 public regulatory agencies in a showcase of collaborative effort between stakeholders toward a common goal. The remediation strategy negotiated with stakeholders was a combination of source removal, flushing of the road fill, and recovery and treatment of the water used for flushing. Only 117 days after the spill occurred, regulatory agencies concurred that necessary remediation and restoration were satisfactorily complete.

These efforts were recognized by the Regional Water Quality Control Board who used this as a demonstration project, by the American Society of Civil Engineers who awarded this the Environmental Project of the Year, and by the California Water Environment Association who awarded this an Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award.



Our Environment team has earned a reputation for excellence by offering integrated, practical and innovative solutions to all levels of government, authorities and private organisations.

We draw on the skills of engineers, scientists, auditors and planners to deliver services in a number of critical areas:

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Water Treatment & Desalination


All untreated water sources have unique water quality characteristics. So we’ve assembled a team with extensive practical experience in water treatment covering chemistry, biology, hydraulics, process selection, control, residuals handling and plant layout.

Our track record includes plant capacities of 0.1 MLD to over 2500 MLD. We’ve dedicated our efforts to more than 300 treatment plants over the past 60 years. Our services include design of water treatment process solutions as diverse as Dissolved Air Floatation Filtration (DAFF), Ozone/Biological Filtration and Desalination (using Reverse Osmosis or Electrodialysis Reversal).

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