Workers Rush To Contain Marshall Co. Oil Spill Near Lake - - No One Gets You Closer

Workers Rush To Contain Marshall Co. Oil Spill Near Lake


MARSHALL COUNTY, OK -- An oil spill off Lake Texoma has crews scrambling to contain the mess before it harms the environment. 

It is a sticky situation as workers try to clean up hundreds of gallons of oil that leaked into a stream bed, hoping to fix the problem before it gets into the water. Officials say the old pipe had a small hole, but it was large enough to let out about 400 gallons of oil into a wooded area next to Lake Texoma.

The spill has left workers busy for three days so far, trying to make the mess disappear.

Lake Texoma means a great deal to many residents in Marshall County. "We fish and swim right over there there's kind of a drop off and there's a beach down below," says resident Jack Medley.

But on Sunday afternoon, someone discovered oil leaking at Cardinal Cove near the Enos community, and it came from a 2-inch pipe to an oil well. "It's just one of those things that happen you know," says Homer Varnell of Berexco Inc.

"We had to swim in it," says swimmer Shawn Short. "Like gas and oil mixed together in the water, just floating."

The Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the land, estimates about 10 barrels, or 400 gallons, spilled out. "It was limited and contained very much to just the area where the ephemeral stream comes into Lake Texoma right at the mouth of that and a very small area probably a half acre in size had some oil in it," says Denison-based Army Corps environmental specialist Paul Balkenbush.

You can actually walk under this section of the pipe, but it's the part next to it that was buried underground where the leak actually started. Now, workers are trying to take out anything that has any oil left on it.

"You can see our process what we've been doing here, cutting out the debris and bagging it and getting it out of here and dig up the oil," says clean-up supervisor Gary Lytle from Wilson-based A Clean Environment.

"If the public were to swim inside the boom area, it might not be the best idea right now until all of that free oil what's left of it is skimmed up, but we haven't seen any evidence of any fish or wildlife injuries," says Balkenbush.

We're told this is the only well Wichita-based Berexco Inc. has nearby, and the weeklong clean-up could cost more than $50,000.

"The big hazard we got here is the underbrush and the weeds and old dead limbs and drifts," says Varnell.

"You worry about an oil spill, you don't want it to get to the water, but I don't think it has," says swimmer Sheila Webb.

Two booms are in place and work will continue on Thursday. Varnell says many oil wells contain salt water, which could have made the clean-up trickier, but in this case it was just oil.