Clean-Up Efforts For Shunga Creek Diesel Spill Slowed By Cold

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- The clean-up process continues in the hazardous material spill near Shunga Creek that happened on January 2.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment told 13 News the spill, which turns out to be diesel fuel, does not threaten the public's safety.

KDHE Geologist Tom Winn said the spill is not a flammable issue, but a drinking water issue, but that he is sure no diesel got into any water.

"The amount that spilled this time should not make it to any inlets downstream."

Winn said 500 gallons of diesel have been recovered and the spill came from a tanker parked at Haag Oil Company at 326 SE 15th. The tanker that lost the material had 2,400 gallons inside, some of it water, so KDHE isn't sure how much oil actually spilled into the creek.

KDHE told 13 news the tanker was parked on concrete but the freezing temperatures caused a pipe connected to it to burst, and the diesel fuel ran into a nearby inlet pipe running to Shunga Creek about 100 yards away.

Winn says the positive is that the ice is preventing it from moving downstream. The downside is that the weather is making clean-up harder.

"We're going to have to wait until it thaws first. Right now we have a lot of absorbent booms in the creek. We're going to be counting on that and if we get enough oil accumulated behind the booms we'll use the vacuum truck and suck it out.

Hopefully we're going to get the majority of what you see right now taken care of by the end of the weekend, if the weather cooperates. If it doesn't thaw out, it may be a while."

Another challenge is removing the soil that has been contaminated.

Wednesday the City of Topeka ran a robotic camera through the inlet pipe to determine if any fuel leaked out of it between Haag Oil and Shunga Creek. Winn said it's easier to get oil out of the sewer versus off the creek.

Winn said the spill poses no threat to the ecosystem around the area.


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