Source Of Lackawanna River Oil Slick Identified

SCRANTON — The state has traced the source of an oil spill in the Lackawanna River in Scranton: an oil tank on property owned by Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples.

A black line staining the leaves along the Lackawanna River near Poplar Street in Scranton shows how high the water was after last week’s rain. It also shows what’s left of a fuel oil spill that spread through several miles of the river.

On Saturday, fishermen noticed the oil coming from a sewer pipe. DEP spokesperson Colleen Connolly says the spill was contained quickly but crews are still cleaning it up.

“Crews have picked up about 30,000 gallons and that is including water. Now it’s the shoreline that you worry about as the oil continues to go down, it tends to cling to the shoreline. That’s what we’re concerned about and where we are concentrating our cleanup efforts,” Connolly said.

The spill was traced to a fuel oil tank a few blocks away on the site of the old Community Central Energy.

Community Central Energy on North Washington Avenue has been closed since the late 1990s. DEP officials say the tank that leaked hasn’t been used since then but they don’t know how much fuel oil leaked into the Lackawanna River.

DEP officials say the tank’s valve was broken. Crews spent much of the day on the site cleaning up oil that spilled there. DEP says the building’s owner, a real estate company run by Dunmore Businessman Louis DeNaples, is cooperating and paying for all the cleanup there and on the river.

“The original source was here so it grabbed it and took it all the way down the shore line,” said Bernie McGurl, director of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association, who watched the cleanup closely.

He says the spill will likely have only a minor effect on the wildlife there. He hopes the spill will lead the DEP to keep a closer eye on the spill’s source.

“There’s a huge smokestack, it’s a huge legacy of the bygone era and it really needs to be cleaned up so this event will hopefully precipitate a major cleanup of that site.”

DEP officials say they’re still investigating to see if the broken valve on the oil tank was an accident or not. There is no word yet on if the owner will face any penalties.

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