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Water Officials: Blue chemical dumped into Lake Hefner safe

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Lake Hefner: You got your boating, your kite surfing and chemicals? Jim Ross snapped a picture moments after he says city workers threw blue crystals into the water.

“Oh I was alarmed when I saw that,” said Jim Ross.

“The guy actually waded out in the water, and they would pass him shovels full of this material,” said Ross. “He would throw it out in the water, and it drifted that way.”

Drifted in the wind, in the water, he says. Ross was curious. So, he looked in the trash can where workers threw the bag that carried the blue stuff.

“It says marine hazard. You know? It had a fish with a cross across it, and I said. ‘What?’,” said Ross.

He snapped a photo of the bag in the trash can. The bag read Copper Sulfate crystals. The label says it can kill fish and can be harmful to humans who inhale it or touch it.

The hazards to humans are potentially fatal if swallowed, irritating to the eyes, and respiratory system.

“They were tossing it, and the winds blowing and that’s not right,” said Ross.

However, Debbie Ragan with the city’s Utility Department says the workers that day were using the proper procedure when spreading the copper sulfate, which they use to kill algae.

“The amount of copper sulfate used has had no impact on the workers,” said Ragan.

The city says it puts 100 pounds of copper sulfate in the lake a year. An amount Erin Hatfield with the Department of Environmental Quality says won’t hurt workers or fish.

However, boaters out there wonder, what does copper sulfate do to the water that eventually comes out of your faucet?

“I think we shouldn’t put chemicals in our water supply,” said Christine Gifers. “It could harm our kids and us.”

The DEQ tells us otherwise.

“In this case the levels that were used were significantly below the maximum levels that are recommended,” said Hatfield. “So, this is not an issue.”

Still, people like Ross want city officials to know, “Somebody’s watching.”

He wants to keep this lake safe for fish, boaters and those taking a sip.

Debbie Ragan adds it is safe to eat fish from the lake but you are not allowed to swim in the water.

Here are the photos taken of the dispersion and the container: