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Museum Reach Oil Spill Declared Minor, Area Wildlife Not Affected

Eileen Pace

As the investigation continues into the cause of the oil spill that heavy rains carried into the San Antonio River on the final Saturday of Fiesta last month, officials say the spill has been remediated and restoration is almost complete. 

They said it was a perfect storm: An unknown amount of oil spilling into the street during Fiesta, when hundreds of cars had driven up and down Broadway, and a heavy rain that washed everything down the hill on 10th Street and into the river along the east bank of the Museum Reach.

Even so, Ronnie Hernandez, an environmental investigations specialist for the San Antonio River Authority, described the damage to the river as minor, thanks in part to all the rain.

"Most of the product was diluted to the point where we did not see any impacted local wildlife, especially any of the aquatic wildlife in the San Antonio River itself – the fish and the turtles. Those types of organisms were not impacted," he said.

Hernandez said residue did remain on the vegetation, including grass, soil and plants along about 100 feet of river frontage, and had to be removed. SARA is working on restoration of the plantings.

Hernandez said SARA is shouldering the cost of remediation and replacement of plants on the bank of the river, and The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality used state funds to clean up the street and the VFW property.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.