Oil sheen found on Brazos River, Lake Alan Henry closed - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


Oil sheen found on Brazos River, Lake Alan Henry closed

By Ann Wyatt Little - bio | email

JUSTICEBURG, TX (KCBD) - Two crude oil pipelines near the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos river were severed by our recent heavy rains when the water collapsed a portion of the river bank. The company that owns the lines estimates 165 barrels, or 6,930 gallons of oil were released. The lines have been plugged and the leak has stopped, but there is a sheen of crude on the river about 15 miles from Lake Alan Henry.

"We are basically a unified command working together to try to help minimize the impact of the incident," said Lewis Treadwell with the City of Lubbock Emergency Management

Emergency management teams across the region got the call Tuesday morning that an underground pipe carrying crude oil burst Monday afternoon. Officials from various agencies were on the scene Tuesday afternoon, including: Emergency Management Teams from the City of Lubbock and Garza County, The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Parks and Wildlife. They were working to set up containment booms in five different locations upstream from Lake Alan Henry. While KCBD NewsChannel 11 did not get to see the actually oil on the river, the reports indicated there was a sheen of oil on the surface.

The four inch line that belongs to Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. ruptured underground. The company discovered Tuesday that a second smaller line downstream had also been severed by the record rainfall.

"Due to the heavy rains that pipe line broke in two places that we know of," said Jeff McKito, City of Lubbock spokesperson. Both lines have been plugged and there is no oil leaking.

There are more than 100 people working to clean up the crude. The command center was set up at the Lake Alan Henry fire station and the Salvation Army arrived on the scene to support the cleanup crews. "We are doing everything we can to minimize any damages that are being done," said McKito who added that there is no oil in the lake.

The company that owns the pipelines deployed teams to clean up and contain the oil. They are using boom, like the crews in the gulf coast have been using for months. The absorbent cloths stretch almost 300 feet across the river in five different locations.

"We are collecting samples ahead and behind the oil spill and testing for hydrocarbons," said Aubrey Spear with the City of Lubbock Water Utilities Department. The city is working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to test the water, and will continue testing long after the oil is cleaned up.

"We've got two more years before we are drinking water from Lake Alan Henry and this spill is nothing like the British Petroleum spill. It's very small but we are taking a lot of precautionary measures," said Spear.

Officials are keeping a close eye on the oil, while environmentalists say it is too early to know the impact.

The South Garza Water Supply Corporation has shut down its intake from the lake. The corporation has two to five days worth of water in reservoir tanks. 

Lake Alan Henry is closed indefinitely.

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