750 barrels of crude oil spills into Garfield County creek; clean-up underway

COVINGTON, Okla. - Clean-up efforts are underway after hundreds of barrels of crude oil spilled into Black Bear Creek.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) was notified Tuesday of the spill.

"It has been contained, but we have a spill now that’s about five miles long from the point of release so there are booms out. There’s a dam that’s been built to contain things in the bar ditch, and we’re going from there" OCC spokesperson Matt Skinner told News 4.

According to Skinner, roughly 750 barrels operated by Great Salt Plains Midstream, LLC were spilled.

"That number may go higher as we look further. That number is from the operator," he said. "It came out of a tank, out of a valve. Now, exactly why it spilled out of a tank, what happened with the valve - that’s all things that will be covered in our investigation."

Marc Weigt owns farmland about three miles east of the spill.

"I’ve been around the oil business forever, so I mean I’ve seen spills time and time again and normally mother nature does a pretty good job of cleaning them up with," Weigt said. "If it hurts the tree roots, my big concern would be killing the trees and then we have more soil, bank erosion. Ultimately, this creek here feeds Lake Keystone."

Skinner said there's no way to tell how long it will take to clean up.

"There are vacuum trucks that essentially vacuum cleaners. They are made to separate the oil and water as it’s sucked into the tank of the truck, it separates. That’s how you vacuum up the oil," he said. "Now, obviously it’s not a complete process. There’s other things you have to do such as pressure washer and, in water, there are absorbent pads made that will suck many times their weight in oil."

According to the OCC, there are no reports of wildlife or fish killed, though "that could change".

There's also no reason to believe anyone's water wells have been threatened, Skinner said.

Several other agencies both on the state and federal level have been notified, including the EPA and Oklahoma DEQ.

Rusty Rains, CEO of Great Salt Plains Midstream, LLC sent News 4 this statement:

"On Tuesday, January 29, our field personnel discovered an oil spill near Covington, Okla. It occurred at one of our tank facilities delivering crude oil to Cushing, Okla.

Per our safety procedures, we took immediate action to contain the 750-barrel spill to a 5-mile stretch of a nearby creek. We notified the EPA and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Both agencies have visited the site and are in agreement with our current activities. We are in contact with area landowners about the construction to temporarily dam the waters and completely clean up the site.

The incident is under investigation. We will determine the cause or causes and take action to prevent the likelihood of such an incident in the future.”

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