Workers accidentally dumped a bit less than the equivalent of a backyard swimming pool of cement into an Oakland creek Thursday morning covering at least one golden sparrow in dried goo and sending workers to suction out the hardening material from the water.
"It's pretty bad," said California Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan. "But it's pretty small. Half a mile of creek is destroyed temporarily. Picture gray, gunky concrete discharge in a creek, and that's what it looks like."
The cleanup crew told Hughan it would take them three days to physically haul and suck out all the contract and a few more weeks after that.
East Bay Municipal Utility District spokeswoman Abbie Figueroa said a contractor was working on filling the two-mile-long, 24-inch-wide old pipeline with cellular cement, but someone accidentally left a valve on the pipe open, allowing the cement to flow into Glen Echo Creek, off Broadway Terrace about 9:30 a.m.
The workers didn't notice the valve was open and a maximum of 106 cubic yards poured into the storm drain and then the creek, according to Figueroa and Hughan. About 11 a.m., a neighbor noticed the gray water behind homes on Clarewood Lane, which also feeds Lake Merritt. Then, about 11:15 a.m., a storm drain was dammed about a half-mile down the creek to keep the substance from flowing into Lake Merritt and the Bay and the water was diverted into a sewer, Figueroa said.
The golden sparrow covered in concrete was taken to the Lindsay Wildlife center in Walnut Creek for care.
"It's a mistake, it should not have happened," Figueroa said, adding that just who left the valve open at this point isn't clear. "We're going to be looking into this thoroughly to find out how it happened and make sure it never happens again."
NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez and Bay City News contributed to this report.