Howe Oil to Blame for Spill at Lake Ariel

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LAKE ARIEL – An oil company in Wayne County is being held responsible for this week’s leak that contaminated Lake Ariel.  The state today sent a notice of violation to Howe Oil Company.  But as the oil clean-up continues in Wayne County, there are still a lot more questions than answers

Oil still sits on the surface here on Lake Ariel in Wayne County and now the State Department of Environmental Protection says Howe Oil is to Blame.

Friday this heating oil tank was overfilled at the business along Route 191, but officials say that’s not the only thing that went wrong.

"We think it was probably likely equipment failure but from what point did the equipment start to fail and why did the equipment fail, that`s essentially the answers we`re looking for at this point,” said DEP Spokeswoman Colleen Connolly.

The DEP issued a notice of violation to Howe Oil with a list of issues the company needs to fix and fast.

Richard Rauch of South Canaan Township says he walks Lake Ariel Frequently and believes Howe Oil should pay the price for this spill.

"It`s certainly a little bit of lack of responsibility for people to take care of their equipment so things like that don`t happen,” said Rauch.

Workers at Howe Oil told Newswatch 16 they had no comment on the violations or the cleanup.  Others living nearby say despite the mess, this company is one they still trust in their community.

"They`ve been there 25 years and I`ve known them all 25 years.  And I`ve never seen anything happen like that,” said Sophia Constantinou of Lake Township.

DEP is collecting water samples to make sure drinking water at this convenient mart is not contaminated as the oil seeped through the ground underneath the store before reaching the lake.

Others are wondering too what else might be effected and how long until the lake is really clean.

"It will be a lot of work cleaning it up, and I just hope it doesn`t affect the fishing, that there will still be fish,” said Richard Zanroche of Lake Township.

"There is a concern about what the long-term impacts are, we`re coming up on the end of winter right now a very cold winter where everything is still frozen so it`s tough to tell at this point,” said Zanroche.

DEP says that at this time Howe Oil is cooperating but the company may still face fines for this spill in Wayne County.

Officials with the DEP say they’ll be back on site tomorrow, continuing their investigation.