Kentucky Oil Spill May Be State's Worst : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

This is a series of three updates on a story that was reported on previously (the link is provided below). We were warned prior to rollover about possible embedded systems failures that could cause infrastructure problems of this type. There was a major oil pipeline rupture in Brazil earlier this month as well. No cause for this current major rupture has been determined.

Oil spill affects water, lives

Leak of crude in Clark may be worst in state's history Wayne Partridge


WINCHESTER Dennis Goolman had a pure, cool spring on his farm, so he never saw any need to connect to the city water system.

But Goolman might have no choice now. His spring has filled with black, smelly slime from what could be the worst crude-oil spill in state history. About 100 people from the state, local and federal governments are working around the clock to clean up as much as 900,000 gallons of crude oil and keep it from reaching the Kentucky River.

``I can't imagine this ever going away completely,'' said Goolman as he scooped a cupful of crude from what used to be his water supply.

State officials said they don't know how long it will take to clean up the oil that spilled from a pipeline that burst Thursday afternoon near the fifth hole of the Southwind Golf Course near Winchester.

State and Marathon Ashland Petroleum officials said they couldn't speculate on what caused the pipe to burst. The 24-inch pipe carries crude oil from the western part of the state to a refinery in Catlettsburg in Eastern Kentucky. Officials with Marathon Ashland said yesterday that the rupture spilled between 500,000 and 900,000 gallons before the line was turned off.

Much of the oil found its way into Two Mile Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River, from which Lexington, Richmond and other cities draw their drinking water.

Emergency response crews created a series of dams along the creek and stopped the spill before it reached the river. From her front porch, Jan Snedegar can see the small city of tankers, cleanup trucks and other vehicles that have assembled on the banks of Two Mile Creek, near the point that crews stopped the spill.

She can also see and smell the oil-slicked ponds in her front yard that two days earlier had served as watering holes for her neighbor's cattle.

``Our property values are going to go down because of this oil,'' said Snedegar, who thought a natural-gas line had broken when she first smelled the oil and reported it to officials. ``We can't use our ponds, and we don't know yet if our well's contaminated. We're on city water, but no one's going to want to buy land that's polluted with oil.''

Marathon Ashland officials said they are shipping in drinking water for people whose wells might be affected. Although there has been no mandatory evacuation, the company has offered to pay for hotel rooms for residents overwhelmed by the smell. Five families have taken the offer so far.

The company is also providing water for Goolman's 52 head of cattle that had used the Snedegar property for grazing and watering. But that can't last forever, Goolman said.

``I'm ruined,'' Goolman said. ``It takes twice as long to feed my cattle and water them.''

State officials said yesterday that they couldn't immediately find complete records of other oil spills, but they said they think the Clark County spill is among the worst if not the worst spill the state has ever seen.

By late evening yesterday, tanker trucks had removed nearly 250,000 gallons of oil and contaminated water from the site. Workers had equipment standing by where Two Mile Creek joins the Kentucky River, but no immediate threat was apparent last night.

A team of about 100 workers representing law enforcement and environmental agencies from the federal, state and local levels is expected to work around the clock until most of the oil is removed.

``They really got going about 2 in the morning, with that whole area lit up like a football field,'' said Gary McCord, who lives on a hill overlooking the cleanup effort. ``I'm on city water, but I know a lot of people around here are on wells. I really feel sorry for them.''


Published Sunday, January 30, 2000, in the Herald-Leader Broken pipeline repaired, operating

Crews still cleaning up spilled crude oil HERALD-LEADER STAFF REPORT

WINCHESTER The pipeline that burst Thursday and and caused as many as 900,000 gallons of crude oil to spill near Winchester has been repaired and restarted.

By midday yesterday, a cleanup team of about 100 state, local and federal workers and Marathon Ashland Petroleum workers had recovered up more than 300,000 gallons of crude oil, said Troy Reynolds, a Marathon Ashland spokesman.

The cleanup crews are working around the clock. Authorities are estimating that between 500,000 and 900,000 gallons escaped the pipeline.

Reynolds said that the most intensive work will take about a week, but the company will stay on the site until it has returned to its previous state.

Officials have not yet determined a cause for the leak in the 24-inch pipe that carries crude oil from the western part of the state to a refinery in Catlettsburg in Eastern Kentucky.

Now, the crews are using vacuums to collect oil and contaminated water. Later, they will take off contaminated topsoil, clean it and return it.

Reynolds said Marathon Ashland should be able to use much of the recovered oil.

Five families who live near the site of the spill spent Thursday and Friday nights at hotels on the oil company's tab. By yesterday, the families were back in their homes, Reynolds said.

In an area where some residents have wells, the oil company is also bringing bottled water to a handful of homes.

Published Tuesday, February 1, 2000, in the Herald-Leader Effects may last for years


WINCHESTER Flanagan Station Road is a winding, usually quiet rural Clark County lane, but traffic jams were common yesterday.

A stream of dump trucks was bringing gravel to the site of a huge crude oil spill. Tanker trucks were hauling out crude.

The focal point was what a landowner called ``the truck stop'': A 10-acre patch of packed gravel beside the icy, oily pools of Twomile Creek.

It had been a pretty pasture last week. Yesterday it was packed with gravel and heavy equipment. Scores of people were at work, some using rakes and squeegees to coax oil toward vacuum hoses.

As many as 250 people have worked through freezing rain and snow since shortly after the spill was detected Thursday afternoon.

Some began leaving yesterday. The traffic could ease soon.

But it could take years to erase damage caused by the hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil that flowed down a hill and into a creek, a federal official said.

The company that owns the pipeline, Marathon Ashland Petroleum, will face a fine, said Fred Stroud, an official from the Environmental Protection Agency's regional office in Atlanta. He said it is too early to determine how large the fine will be.

State officials say the spill could be the worst of its kind in Kentucky. Stroud said it is one of the worst in the Southeast.

The oil is from the Gulf of Mexico. The 24-inch pipeline that ruptured carried it from Owensboro to a Marathon Ashland refinery in Catlettsburg.

The rupture was about 21/2 feet long and only 4 inches wide at its widest point, company spokesman Troy Reynolds said.

The break apparently was reported soon after it happened, he said, but so much oil escaped because it was under high pressure. The rupture was repaired and the line put back into service Saturday night. Reynolds said the break was an isolated incident and the company is ``pretty confident it won't happen again.''

State and federal regulators have been on the scene, including investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, which will investigate the break.

People from the state Division of Water are checking wells in the area.

An oil-coated duck was sent to Lexington to be cleaned. Wayne Davis, an official with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said there apparently were few aquatic creatures in the creek because it had been dry through most of last summer and because what little water was there last week was frozen.

Greg Powell, an EPA geologist who was there yesterday, said it will take time and perhaps a heavy rain to determine how many natural springs were contaminated.

Marathon Ashland has been bringing in water and hay for several farmers' cattle.

Two families near the spill, Earl and Jan Snedegar and Dennis and Linda Goolman, hired Lexington lawyer Gil Johnson over the weekend.

Johnson said yesterday that the the oil company had been very helpful, but added that ``we are worried about the future; what effect the spill will have on their ability to farm.''

David Cantrell, who owns the land that now is the ``truck stop,'' said he has consulted a business partner who is a lawyer.

He estimated that at least 30 acres of his 200-acre farm has been harmed.

The land along Twomile Creek was a special place, he said.

``My kids and all the kids in the neighborhood have fished and frog-gigged and all that down there,'' he said. It was a place used for summer fun by youth and church groups, he said. For him, it was ``a place to get away from the world.''

He's been there since the spill, but it was too painful to stay very long.

``It's kind of a disaster,'' he said. ``It took a nice place and made a disaster out of it.''


Link to GICC thread on original story:

-- Carl Jenkins (, February 02, 2000

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