Oil spill troubles neighbors

BRISTOL – Will Yonker, 746 Mahan Denman Road, said he is worried that runoff from a Wednesday morning oil spill will cause significant damage to his 50-acre farm, the stream that runs through his property and perhaps to his drinking well.

“I’m one property downstream from where the spill was located,” Yonker said. “From what I’ve been told, someone left a valve open on a tank in which the oil was held.”

The spill was initially reported at about 9:45 a.m. at 655 Mahan Denman Road, according to township fire Chief Roger French. It was crude oil that leaked into a nearby creek, where it traveled one mile downstream.

French said crews from the state EPA and the Trumbull County Hazardous Materials Team were called to help contain the spill with booms and absorbent pads.

“We found out about the spill because someone from the Hazmat team knocked on my door to ask my wife, Anita, if they could come on our property,” Yonker said. “She called me at work.”

The Yonkers purchased their property about three years ago.

“The creek runs through our property and is about 800 feet from our house,” Yonker said. “When we’re near it, the smell is pretty bad. We have four kids who love going to the creek. We’re now going to have to keep them away.”

Yonker planned on planting a fruit orchard on the property. He now is worried they will not be able to do the planting.

“We don’t know the level of damage,” Yonker said. “We’re going to have to test our well water to make sure oil is not seeping into it. We will keep testing it. The well is our only source of water.”

In the meantime, the family will use bottled water for drinking and cooking.

The Yonkers decided not to sell the mineral rights to the property because they wanted to preserve the land and were worried about a spill.

“We’re getting the downside of it,” he said.

EPA officials are looking for a firm to handle the cleanup, but French said he did not know how long that will take.

EPA spokesman Mike Settles said it is estimated about 1,600 gallons of crude oil leaked out of the tank. He said a company called Chemtron to help with the cleanup.

Settles said the cleanup is expected to last a couple of days. He said investigators on the scene said there was a sheen of oil on the water and other oil was clumped around rocks in the creek.

French said it is not clear how the valve on the tank, which is located between two houses, was left open. He said Hazmat will be investigating to see how that happened.

“I was frustrated because no one will tell us what company owns the tank,” Yonker said.

No roads were closed in the area and no one was evacuated, French said.