Source Of Creek Contamination Unknown

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EXETER -- Officials with the Department of Environmental Protection say a 15-month investigation into contamination in Luzerne County has come up empty.

The search continues for the culprit behind a fluid spill that stained a creek in Exeter.

The part of Hicks Creek that runs behind a development and near several businesses in Exeter looks a bit murky. The DEP says the water is a lot cleaner than it used to be.

Pictures from last year show the creek covered in a smelly, bubbly film. The DEP says it was hydraulic fluid that turned the water dark, staining the rocks and vegetation.

"The evidence, which would be the oil, doesn't lead us to any particular business or industry or particular party. The oil has washed away," said DEP spokesperson Colleen Connolly.

The DEP says investigators spent months wading through Hicks Creek opening up manhole covers and even going through three nearby businesses.  But after 15 months, the DEP has not been able to find the source of what appeared to be a large, intentional spill.

The mystery has been frustrating some people who live along the banks of the creek.

"I understand it's all cleared up, but it would be nice to know where it came from so it won't happen again," said a neighbor.

A sign says people caught dumping into Hicks Creek could face a $300 fine. The Department of Environmental Protection says whoever is responsible for last year's contamination, could be hit with several hundred thousand dollars in penalties.

"Unless and until we get anyone coming forward with any strong evidence, information, at this point in time, we can't say definitely who the responsible party it."

DEP officials say, over time, Hicks Creek has been able to clean itself up . And there was no evidence of hydraulic fluid reaching the Susquehanna River.

Anyone with information about last year's spill is asked to call the DEP office in Luzerne County."