FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 21, 2016
Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper
Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Carol Parenzan
on the 55,000 gallon oil spill in Lycoming County, PA
In the wake of severe flooding in Central Pennsylvania, an 80-year-old pipeline burst early Friday morning, leaking upwards of 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Loyalsock Creek, in Gamble Township, northeast of Williamsport. By mid-day Friday, the spill was working its way into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Carol Parenzan, Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, said that witnesses who contacted her office said the “smell of petroleum is so thick you can taste it.”
Parenzan said that downstream drinking water is being monitored and precautions for public safety are being put in place. In Milton, just north of Lewisburg, the water plant operated by Pennsylvania American Water, is filling water storage tanks and preparing to shut down drinking water should the spill reach intakes for the water plant.
Meanwhile, local and state agencies and emergency crews are having difficulty reaching the break due to high-water conditions, which happened on Wallis Run Road in Lycoming County.
“High water and flooding has taken a bridge out in the area,” Parenzan said. “A liquid fuel pipeline in the vicinity was originally exposed during 2011 flooding. When we don’t adequately address aging infrastructure, it is only a matter of time before calamity happens. The time for the Susquehanna River apparently arrived today in the form of this broken pipeline and spill.”
Parenzan said that the area is closed to everyone except emergency workers.
“This spill is not simply an issue of drinking water for people, although that is currently our most pressing concern. In the short- and long-term, fish and other aquatic life simply cannot survive in a contaminated river,” Parenzan said. “It is important that we not only maintain our aging energy infrastructure, but that we also remain vigilant about new pipelines and energy interests that threaten water quality.”
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