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Multiple teams work to contain and clean up oil in water at park

oil spill 8
A sheen of oil can still be seen floating on top of the water following the best efforts of multiple teams of workers.

By Marlana Ward

Recent visitors to Ralph Stout Park may have noticed work being done at the north end of the park.  This work was actually a clean up effort to restore the park after what is believed to be used motor oil was dumped into the drainage ditch that feeds into Goose Creek.
City employees discovered the oil situation on March 8th.  Upon discovery, the Mountain City Street, Water, and Police departments, as well as the Johnson County Emergency Management, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and Marion Environmental, Inc. were all called into action.   All agencies worked together to ensure as little damage as possible was done and that the park could be restored.
In order to clean the pollutant, water and soil had to be removed according to state standards.  The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation oversaw the operation to ensure its effectiveness.
The town’s quick and serious response to the oil made for a successful restoration of the park’s cleanliness and safety for the wildlife that enjoys the park setting as much as residents.  No wildlife was observed to be effected by the oil and no lasting effects are expected.
While those who investigated the scene are quite confident that the substance found was used motor oil, a sample was sent off for definitive identification.  The area in which the oil was found and the amount found leads investigators to believe it was intentionally dumped in the drainage ditch.  The town is investigating the polluting as a criminal case and the parties responsible could be facing serious repercussions.  Possible punishment could include criminal charges as well as reimbursement to the town for the clean up expenses.  If anyone has information concerning the investigation, they are encouraged to contact the Mountain City Police Department.
Used motor oil is a major source of waterway pollution in the United States.  Uninformed do-it-yourselfers may not fully understand the seriousness of releasing oil products into the ground or waters.  According to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality:
One gallon of used motor oil can contaminate one million gallons of drinking water.
It takes only one pint of motor oil to put an oil sheen on a one-acre pond.
The amount of used motor oil disposed of improperly by do-it-yourselfer auto mechanics every 18 days is approximately 11 million gallons.
Nearly 40% of the pollution in America’s waterways is from used motor oil.
Used motor oil often contains toxic metals such as benzene, lead, arsenic, zinc and cadmium, which can seep into water tables if dumped on the ground.
Additionally, collecting and recycling used motor oil is not only better for the local environment but is also good for the country’s oil supply.
​One gallon of used motor oil that is re-refined will produce 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil, but it takes 42 gallons of crude oil to produce the same 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil.
For the rest of the story pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.