Mysterious, Foamy Blobs Found Floating Around Utah State Capitol

Dec 6, 2019, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:43 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Hundreds of white, fluffy blobs that were seen north of the Utah State Capitol and concerning some Utahns ended up being soap from a nearby refinery, according to officials.

Early Friday morning, KSL viewers sent in pictures and reported the blobs floating along Beck Street and Victory Road.

“It’s interesting, the way it’s floating like cotton balls,” said Mike Duncan, who lives across from the Marathon Petroleum refinery on Beck Street and manages the self- storage facility there. “Never seen it before.”

From the pictures, somebody suggested it was a spittlebug or even snow mold.

One of the white blobs seen around Salt Lake City on Friday.

When KSL’s crew first arrived on the scene around 9 a.m. Friday, blobs of bubbles were floating in the wind like balloons. Duncan first noticed the blobs last night and thought they were plastic bags blowing around.

“I got up this morning, and there was foam everywhere. We had pieces this big on the roof,” he said, opening his arms wide. Even after he touched the globs of bubbles, he wasn’t sure what it was.

“No smell came from it,” he said. “Usually, if it’s really toxic you would think it would have something.”

The blobs of foam were strewn across Warm Springs Park and started to disintegrate like dish soap bubbles when touched.

“The foam blobs are pretty much soap, just like you would see in your sink when you do your dishes,” said Marathon Petroleum Manager of State Government Affairs Brad Shafer.

The bubbles are not dangerous to us or the environment, he said, adding they had wafted from cooling towers at the refinery.

White blobs of soap were seen floating around some Salt Lake City neighborhoods Friday morning.

Marathon lets off steam from water used in cooling processes at the refinery.

“In that process, we use a detergent and something happened last night that just created foam that got up in the breeze and has floated around,” Shafer said.

When the refinery noticed the foam, members of their environmental team went out and took a closer look. Shafer said they corrected the problem later Friday morning.

“We put in some anti-foaming agent that will keep it from farming,” he said.

Marathon believed that will eliminate the problem.

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Mysterious, Foamy Blobs Found Floating Around Utah State Capitol