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Drilling lubricant gets into Marys River
Drilling mud from a gas pipeline project was found to have entered the Marys River in Corvallis on Thursday, prompting contractors to stop work on the project while they assessed the damage and worked to contain the spill. An undetermined amount of bentonite, a type of clay used as a lubricant and sealant for the drill bits boring an underground shaft for the new gas line, pooled up on the bed of the river where it passes between Avery and Pioneer parks just west of the Highway 20/34 Bypass. Melissa Moore, a spokeswoman for NW Natural, told the Gazette-Times that a contractor working for the utility had reported an “inadvertent release” of bentonite into the river. She didn’t know how much of the material had gotten into the river or how it got there. “The place where it was released is a long way from where our equipment is staged,” Moore said. She called the bentonite a natural element that posed no environmental hazard but didn’t know whether any other substances had been mixed with it during the drilling process.