Up to 96,000 gallons spilled from tank at Sonoma winery leaks into Russian River

Up to 96,000 gallons spilled from tank at Sonoma winery leaks into Russian River

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More than 97,000 gallons of wine spilled Wednesday from a tank at the Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg, an accident that sent much of the alcohol into a storm drain and a creek that drains into the Russian River, where the impact on water quality was not immediately known, authorities said.

A door near the bottom of a large blending tank somehow popped open around 1:30 p.m. and released all of the Cabernet Sauvignon it was holding into a sanitary sewer system on the property. The wine flowed into a drainage ditch that feeds into Reiman Creek and eventually made its way to the Russian River.

Rodney Strong spokesman Chris O’Gorman said Thursday the winery is conducting an internal investigation and cooperating with authorities.

“We are deeply concerned and are doing everything in our power to protect our waterways,” he said.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) was notified of the spill about 3:20 p.m. A small amount of the 97,112-gallon spill was contained, OES officials said. Estimates showed anywhere between 46,000 and 96,000 gallons reached the Russian River.

“The uncertainty was how much of that made it into the creek and how much into the sanitary sewer system inside the facility,” said Sonoma County Fire Battalion Chief Mike Elson said. “But there was a large, substantial amount into the creek and river.”

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter tracked the wine spill as far west as Riverfront Regional Park within a matter of hours.

Rodney Strong contracted with two vacuum truck operators to clean up the spill on site, and tried to assemble a temporary dam in Reiman Creek, Elson said. That step was unsuccessful, with higher flows in the creek due to recent rains.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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