Crews were working Friday afternoon to contain a spill that sent an estimated 4,200 gallons of crude oil running down ditches in eastern Madison County — all of which ultimately drain into Highland’s Silver Lake.
How far the oil had run was unclear, but Highland city officials were monitoring the lake, which serves as the city’s water supply.
“You could see a little sheen at (Illinois Route) 160,” said Highland City Manager Mark Latham. “Somewhere up there is where they (the oil company) are going to deploy their buoy system.”
Latham said Highland firefighters had also placed booms where Interstate 70 crosses over Silver Lake to catch any oil before it might make it to the main part of the lake, which also serves as a water source for the villages of Grantfork, Pierron and St. Jacob.
A water patrol by Highland police and public works employees south of I-70 did not reveal any oil making it that far, Latham said.
“We didn’t see any sheen,” Latham said.
However, monitoring was also being conducted at the water treatment plant.
The spill happened at a pumping station near Baumann and Pocahontas roads, near the Bond-Madison county line, northeast of Highland.
“It occurred sometime over night and was discovered Friday morning. That’s all I know,” said Grantfork Fire Chief Alan Rode.
Blaine Kinsley, manager of emergency operations for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), said a citizen first reported the spill sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. The leak was reported by the company to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) at 11:30 a.m., Kinsley said.
A preliminary report from IEMA said the spill was caused by a fitting on a 20-inch pipe inside the pumping station blowing out.
The pumping station, which is owned by Houston, Texas-based Plains All American Pipeline L.P., is part of the Capwood pipeline, which connects an oil storage facility near Patoka, Ill., with the refinery in Wood River.
The company issued a statement around 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.
“Plains has initiated its emergency response plan, and personnel are working with first responders and others to contain the release. The current priorities are to ensure the safety of all involved and limit the environmental impact from the release,” the statement said.
“Preliminary estimates indicate approximately 100 barrels, or 4,200 gallons, of crude were released, a portion of which is contained on site. The release originated from a small-diameter pipeline fitting within the station.”
Late Friday morning, clean-up crews were placing absorbent pads in the ditch on the east side of Baumann Road to catch some of the oil. Buoys used to catch floating oil floating were also placed about a mile north of the spill site, on the west side of the road, where the road ditches dump into a larger tributary of Little Silver Creek.
Due to recent rains, water was flowing in the ditches, and oil could be seen floating on top. The smell of oil was also in the air, although Madison County had recently oiled and chipped Baumann Road, which could have also been adding the the smell.
Large pieces of equipment that workers had at the site included a track hoe, skid-steer loader and a boat with an outboard motor. The skid-steer was sitting near the place where oil was flowing into the road ditch from a drainage pipe. It appeared some top soil near where the skid-steer was parked had been recently been excavated.
Around 12:30 p.m., two large semi-trucks pulling 21,000-gallon containers used to dispose of hazardous waste also arrived at the scene.
Kinsely, the IEPA emergency manager, said a large vacuum truck was also being deployed to the scene, as well as other assets.
“They’ve got a lot of booms deployed and more on the way,” he said.
Latham said it was now up to Plains to handle the clean-up.
“Everything has been turned over to the pipeline. We’ve done our part,” Latham said.