Mineral Oil Still Being Removed From Fort Smith Creek
Source: http://swtimes.com, June 11, 2013
By: Hicham Raache
CORRECTION: Mineral oil from an OG&E transformer that fell June 1 leaked into Mill Creek, not Massard Creek in Fort Smith, Jeff Turner, director of Sebastian County Emergency Management, confirmed Tuesday, June 11. Earlier reports misidentified the creek.
The effort to clean up the mineral oil that spilled into Massard Creek when an OG&E transformer fell over a week ago is still underway.
“Our cleanup efforts are continuing this week and the recovery of the oil is going well,” OG&E spokesman Rob Ratley said Monday. “We are still utilizing two environmental contracting companies to help us with this effort as well as working with the various regulating agencies.”
When a transformer fell June 1 at a 40-acre substation at Rutgers Road on the southwest part of Fort Smith off U.S. 271, a large amount of cooling oil spilled out of the transformer, onto the substation and into the creek at the intersection of Rutgers and Texas roads.
“We’ve been able to recover a majority of the oil released and we will continue monitoring and collecting until everything is clear,” Ratley said. “There will be a maintenance phase where we will leave absorbent booms in affected areas of the stream to catch any remaining oil.”
Adam Adams, on-site coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency, said the cleanup is going well and said that once they are done sucking the oil out of the water with trucks, they will move from an active recovery phase to a passive recovery phase in which absorbent booms and pads are placed every other day to absorb residual oil.
Adams said last week that the oil has a “very, very low toxicity” and a “very low health risk.”
Although there is no definite evidence that the oil spill had an adverse effect on wildlife in the vicinity of the spill, one creature has died, according to Adams.
“I haven’t seen any fish at all that were impacted,” Adams said. “We did see one deceased beaver, (and) he did have some oil on him, but I cannot say it was or was not because of the oil spill.”
Adams said he has contacted the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation “just to let them know that there is a wildlife animal that is deceased and may or not be related to the oil spill.”
The oil had spread about 2.7 miles from the point of origin. The containment crews have prevented the oil from spreading further, Ratley said.
Ratley said efforts are still ongoing to clean up oil from substation grounds as well.