SCRANTON — The banks of the Lackawanna River in Scranton are often busy on a nice summer day. Bikers and runners have noticed something different here since Saturday.
“The smell sometimes is gross when you’re running,” said Kerry Ziegler of Scranton.
Officials with the DEP are more concerned about what you can see if you get closer to the river bank. Black stains left on leaves and rocks and the sheen of oil in the water.
A HAZMAT company in Dunmore is now in the next phase of cleaning up thousands of gallons of fuel oil that leaked into the Lackawanna almost a week ago. Using a canoe and a machete, crews will cut down dirty knotweed plants along a mile stretch of the river.
Another crew has to clean the oil’s source, the sewer system. The Scranton Sewer Authority used a method similar to steam cleaning a carpet – using the heat, moisture, and soap to clear out the oil.
“They want to get all the oil that’s contaminating the sewer line has to come out as well,” said Bernie McGurl of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association.
Next, the clean-up crews will have to go back down the river and power wash the rocks on the river bank that are still covered in oil that’s now turned to tar.
It’s an effort officials say will likely take weeks and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples, who owns the oil tank that leaked, has said he will pay for the clean-up.
“For everybody involved, all the way up to Mr. DeNaples, there’s a big effort to get the river cleaned up and make sure it’s something people can get out and enjoy,” McGurl added.