Crews will have their first day off Sunday after working every day since Dec. 4 cleaning up at least 210,000 gallons of crude oil that spilled after a pipeline leaked near Staples.
And the work is not yet done.
Steve Mikkelson, information officer with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in Baxter, said Friday that crews continue to excavate the contaminated soil and they will do so until they reach "clean soil." Mikkelson said he is not sure how much longer it will take. He said the ground water will be tested with Geoprobes to see if it was contaminated from the oil spill. If the ground water is contaminated, appropriate measures will be taken to treat it.
The spill was discovered about 6:30 a.m. Dec. 4 about three miles southeast of Staples after a change was noticed in the pipeline pressure. The pipeline is operated by Koch Pipeline Co., which is based in Wichita, Kan.
Patty Dunn, spokesperson with Koch, said a pipeline crew was performing routine maintenance on the pipeline and had put equipment in place intended to stop the flow of oil but that equipment had somehow failed. Dunn said a full investigation on the exact cause of the leak is still underway.
A trench dug at the scene for pipeline maintenance contained a lot of the oil spill. Oil overflowed from the trench - about 20 feet by 150 feet and 12 feet deep, spilling into a nearby wooded area. The additional soil contamination beyond the trench covers another 80 feet by 20 feet.
Mikkelson said crews plan to replace the stretch of pipe that burst.
Mikkelson said the resident, who lived about 50 yards from the spill, remains evacuated from his home and will be until the cleanup is complete. The resident is staying at a hotel near Staples.
Mikkelson said the Staples oil spill is not the most damaging one he has seen. But it was the largest amount of oil that spilled. Mikkelson said the oil spill that happened south of Little Falls in 2006 had 134,000 gallons of crude oil that spilled. However, Mikkelson said the Little Falls oil spill contaminated a larger area because the oil sprayed because the pipeline was operating at a normal pace, unlike the oil spill in Staples.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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