Friday, November 6, 2015

Oil Leaks into Embarras River 1971

Daily Record July 12, 1971 Oil Leak Spills into Embarras River

Heavy weekend rains hampered crude oil salvage operations and carried a quantity of oil from a pipeline leak near Flat Rock into the Embarras River.

The leak occurred Thursday in a 6- inch gathering line 3 miles west of Flat Rock. The gathering system is operated by the Marathon Pipeline Company.

Approximately 1400 barrels of crude oil escaped into a small creek in the area and dams and siphons were immediately installed to track and recover the oil, a company spokesman said.

A major portion of the oil had been recovered in cleanup work by Friday night, but flash flooding from torrential rains, and continuing high water severely restricted cleanup crews by destroying dams and lessening siphon capability.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency then issued a permit to burn the oil to keep it off the Embarras River.  Both the IEPA and appropriate federal agencies had been notified as soon as the leak was discovered.

In further action to keep the oil from the river, skimmers were erected and ‘slick bars’ were rushed to the scene by Marathon and installed in strategic locations. The devices are used to trap oil floating on water so it can be recovered.

Despite early cleanup success, burning of the oil and other techniques, an unknown quantity of oil did get on the river, according to a pipeline company official who said they were using oil industry experts, as well as their own, to maintain and recover remaining oil.


Cause of the leak has not yet been determined. Repair crews were diverted to cleanup operations, but a new section of pipe will be installed as soon as oil recovery is completed.