Two oil lines broke near Lubbock, Texas after their supporting banks were washed away during a storm, resulting in an estimated 6,930 gallons of crude spilling into a tributary of Lake Alan Henry. The lake has been the focus of a $267 million project that looks to convert its contents to drinking water for half of Lubbock’s population by 2012.
The company that owns the pipelines, Plains All American Pipeline LP, has been trying to contain the oil by setting up booms along the Brazos River tributary, which spans 300 feet near the river’s mouth into the lake.
Immediately following the spill on Tuesday, city officials closed down the lake. After a week of cleanup efforts, it was reopened to the public with restricted access today. Remaining restrictions keep the public away from areas where the oil company’s crews are still working to clean up the spill.
“We want those precautionary measures in place until the oil is cleaned up,” wrote city spokesman Jeff McKito in an e-mail response to questions.
Water quality testing on the lake will continue indefinitely to ensure all oil is cleaned up. Results from the first round of samples, which are being tested for common traces of crude oil, are expected to be returned early next week, according to Regional Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Jeff Bertl.
Todd Anderson, a professor of environmental chemistry with The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University, said the small amount of oil should have minimal effects on such a large body of water.
Not everyone is as optimistic, however, including local Lubbock blogger Paul Lyle, who said, “That’s comforting. Sounds like something we heard from BP’s early predictions about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.”
There are no confirmed traces of oil in the lake thus far.
Lake Alan Henry set to reopen today [Lubbock Avalanche-Journal] Parts of Lake Alan Henry Reopened [KWES-TV Midland, TX] Lake Alan Henry’s oil spill…transparency needed now [Lubbock Avalanche-Journal] Lake Alan Henry could remain closed through weekend (updated) [Lubbock Avalanche-Journal]
Image Credit: Courtesy of ricraider