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Ruptured pipeline causes oil to leak into Okemah Lake

By Kay Thompson ONL Publisher

For the second time in 18 months, oil has leaked from the direction of Buckeye Creek into Okemah Lake. City officials became aware of the leaking oil on Monday, December 17.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission was called in to take control of the situation. At first they were unable to find the source of the leak. But according to Interim City Manager Dustin Danker, they were able to confirm that the leak is from an abandoned pipeline that ruptured by a fallen tree in the Buckeye Creek area. It is coming from the northwest portion of the lake.

Once the leak was discovered, Danker, Police Chief Ed “Skeeter” Smith, Emergency Management Director Jim Bill Copeland and other city employees jumped into action and placed oil absorbent booms to contain the sheen from moving any further into the lake.

Since the lake is a municipal water supply, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) took lead in the cleanup efforts. Danker stated that DEQ had sampled the lake water, the water near the intake and the raw water coming into the water treatment plant.

The intake pump for Okemah’s water supply is located at Jaycee Point. He said the DEQ official did not think the drinking water was in danger of contamination, however, the results were not back as of press time on Tuesday.

Danker explained that the intake pump, which is not near the leak area, pulls water from the bottom of the lake and is pumping from 14 feet deep at this time. Since oil floats on water and they have contained the oil close to the origin of the leak, he reiterated officials believe that our water supply is safe.

Danker also stated that owner of the pipeline will be responsible for the clean up. Research into the archives to find out the owner of the abandoned pipeline is underway. Senator Roger Thompson was notified and worked with DEQ Director Scott Thompson to make sure all avenues were being covered. He also contacted the Corporation Commission, along with Energy and Environment Secretary Michael Teague as well as the EPA.

A leak came from the same general area in May 2017 when a flow line had broken. Danker confirmed that the new leak was not from the previous leak site, just the same general area.

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