Pipe leaks oil into Montrose

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2001

A corroded pipeline leaked at least 30 barrels of crude oil into Lake Montrose on Friday before cleanup efforts could begin.

Plains Marketing first reported a loss of 60 barrels of crude oil and later reduced that number to 30, said Adams County Civil Defense Director George Souderes.

By Saturday, most of the oil had been cleaned from the lake located near Sibley in Adams County.

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&uot;Plains (Marketing) was very much on top of this – very professional,&uot; Souderes said on Monday. &uot;It’s really a pleasure to work with companies that notify you (in a timely manner) and (who are) willing to work with you in any way, shape or form.&uot;

Plains Marketing became aware of the leak through monitors installed along the eight-inch underground pipeline, Souderes said.

&uot;They can tell when their pressure drops from one station to another station,&uot; said Souderes who was notified of the leak at about 4:30 p.m. Friday.

The pipeline in question ran about 50 feet from the lake – near enough for the oil to find its way to the water.

&uot;It just oozed up from the ground and just took its natural course downhill to the lake,&uot; Souderes said.

Plains Marketing located the leak at Lake Montrose, said Ernie Shirley, environmental scientist with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

With most of the oil already removed from the lake, officials are still using cleanup devices called booms to absorb the remaining oil sheen from the water, Shirley said.

Officials do not expect any long-term environmental threats from the spill but a spill’s damage often depends on what animals live in a location during a certain time of year, Shirley said.

With the amount of oil involved, &uot;this could be a very significant event located in a spot where you have … one of our wildlife refuges or something like that,&uot; he said.

Of the three pipeline spills he has dealt with the year, this was the only one caused by corrosion. The other two occurred when someone accidentally damaged the pipeline, Shirley said.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality does not plan to fine Plains Marketing at this time but could do so in the future if problems develop at the site, Shirley said.

Plains Marketing officials could not be reached for comment Monday.