Investigation into Oil Spill at Lake Continues

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LAKE TOWNSHIP -- The search is still on in Wayne County for the source of an oil spill that contaminated Lake Ariel.

Newswatch 16 was the first to show you the mess yesterday and Wednesday, investigators still had not found where the heating oil came from.

It was the second day state officials were at the lake trying to pinpoint where that oil came from and how it got into the lake.

While the impact to the lake is expected to be small, people around the lake want to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again.

Clean up crews were soaking up the reddish colored oil on top of a section of Lake Ariel.

Those same crews worked to contain the spread of the home heating oil one day before.

The question then, as it is now: Where did the oil come from?

"We really don't have a clue, only thing we could figure the only possibility it found a vein got across there, all the indications is we're not seeing that," said Jerry Peet, Emergency Management Coordinator for Lake Township.

Investigators with the PA Department of Environmental Protection were back at Howe Oil Company where officials said a tank was overfilled late last week. Crews thought it was cleaned up so they never contacted the state.

Then late Monday, people smelled the oil and found the mess.

Fish and Boat Commission Officer Chad McKenrick said the fuel sits on top of the water and the ice helped contain the spread of it.

"The impacts are, I would say, minimal at this point, even though it looks pretty bad," he said.

A Lake Township supervisor said the red dye in the home heating oil will be gone by the end of the Wednesday, but the oily film on top of the water will last a couple of weeks.

"Furious, furious, mad. It better not affect my water," aid Joan Belles, who has lived at Lake Ariel her whole life.

If it turns out Howe Oil Company or the trucking company that made the delivery last week are responsible, Belles said they should be held accountable.

"They better do something so it doesn't happen again, I love this lake, I grew up here."

The D.E.P. plans to issue a notice of violation to the oil company tomorrow, according to an agency spokesperson.

No one from Howe Oil Company or Datom Products, the clean up crew hired by Howe, would comment.

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