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Correction: While  97,000 gallons spilled from a tank, 20% of it was immediately contained. 97,000 gallons did not go into the river. By Rodney Strong estimates, 50% of the spill was contained by Friday morning, Jan. 24. An estimated 45,000 gallons is reported to have gone into Reiman Creek according to Sonoma County Health news report. An estimated 45,000 went into a wastewater treatment pond. 

On Wednesday morning, Jan. 22, around 90,000 gallons of Rodney Strong wine spilled out of a tank, resulting in an estimated 45,000 gallons getting into the Reiman Creek and another 45,000 into a wastewater treatment pond. The wine tank spill was initially estimated at 97,00 gallons since the tank hold aroun 97,000. 20% of the spill was contained immediately after the spill and 50% was contained by Friday morning according to Rodney Strong. Despite the spill, California Department of Fish and Wildlife representatives say that there looks to be no immediate negative environmental impact.

“The state water board is looking into the issue and our department has been monitoring for impacts and none have been noted and we don’t anticipate seeing any (impacts),” said Ken Paglia, an information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Jan. 24. “There aren’t any immediate impacts.”

Paglia said this can be due to the fact that the wine was diluted.

“Wine is pretty soluble,” he said, and since Reiman Creek was flowing more rapidly than normal due to recent rains, the wine was diluted.

He said wine can often affect the pH level of water, as well as dissolve its oxygen levels, which can harm fish, however, he said they have not seen that in this case.

According to a Jan. 23 statement from Rodney Strong Communications Director Christopher O’Gorman, representatives from both the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Russian Riverkeeper indicated that frogs, steelhead trout, strider bugs and local birds were all present and appeared unaffected 24 hours after the spill.

“There is still some red wine residue on the banks (of the creek),” Paglia said.

He said California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists are currently working on cleaning up the residue.

“The goal is to clean up the residue without doing further damage to the environment,” he said.

According to the press release, the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Healdsburg Fire and Sonoma County Fire Services were immediately notified after the spill occurred around 3 p.m.

“Twenty percent of the wine was contained immediately,” Paglia said.

The same press release from Rodney Strong states, “Our best estimate is that at least 50% of the wine was captured by winery pumps, drainpipes into our vineyard ponds and additional pumping out of Reiman Creek by Rodney Strong personnel and a local third-party company. But unfortunately, some wine made it from the creek into the Russian River.”

A Cal OES report attributes a malfunction to a blending tank door for the cause of the spill. The report says the door “popped out for unknown reasons.”

As far as a consequence or fine for Rodney Strong, Paglia said there are a couple different ways of looking into it.

“It is still early on in the investigation and the Sonoma County District Attorney will have to make a decision on that,” Paglia said.

He said technically it is a violation of fish and game code “5650,” which states that it is unlawful to deposit any harmful materials into waters of the state or to deposit materials that can be harmful to fish, bird, or plant life.

The Rodney Strong press release stated, “We are deeply concerned and are doing absolutely everything in our power to protect our waterways. Cleanup efforts are ongoing and we are conducting an internal investigation into the apparent mechanical failure.”

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