Crews Attempt To Block Oil Slick

Saturday, July 7th 2007, 8:46 pm
By: News On 6

As flood waters drain, they're bringing hazards to parts of the state high and dry last weekend. Residents in Collinsville are on alert for flooding, and around Oologah Lake, water quality teams are watching for refinery residue from the flood in Coffeyville, Kansas. The News On 6’s Joshua Brakhage reports the Environmental Protection Agency says they haven't spotted oil in the lake, and they're hoping it stays that way.

Call it a ripple effect. A swollen Verdigris River swamps a Coffeyville refinery. Oil from the plant drains into the flood water and everything flows downstream.

In its path is Oologah Lake, a major source of drinking water. That's why the EPA is deploying layers of protection.

Two spots along the Verdigris now have river roadblocks. It's a floating boom, the same as they use for oil spills at sea. Crews have it just over the state line in South Coffeyville, and at the Highway 60 Bridge east of Nowata, a few miles from north end of the lake.

The EPA wants to put up even more but says the water's working against them.

"The current has been too strong to actually get boom into the water,” said EPA on-scene coordinator Jhana Enders. We have safety issues with the personnel who have actually been putting up the boom."

So far, the boom at Nowata has collected floating debris, but it seems the oil has been stopped upstream.

"We haven't gotten anything that's on the boom, so there's no evidence that anything has gotten that far,” Enders said.

Lakeside at Oologah, the same debris is washing up shore side, but at this point, no oil.

The EPA is working with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to take water samples up and down the Verdigris River. They're not just looking for oil, but chemicals, anything that may have washed out of people's flooded homes.

Their biggest problem is the water's still rising, up a foot Saturday, while overflow from Kansas continues to drain.

For more flooding information, check out our STORM ZONE web page.