Roads near Lawrence County oil spill shows impact of truck traffic

Published: Feb. 13, 2017 at 5:20 PM CST
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Cleanup moves into a second month after an oil pipeline spill in a rural area of eastern Lawrence County. The contaminated soil isn't the only downside. State highways in the area show some serious damage.

Enbridge's last publicized estimate is that 365 barrels of oil spilled at the site south of Everton and north of Halltown on Jan. 13 or Jan. 14. The oil company didn't share an updated number on Monday.

Trucks have been hauling away the impacted soil, and the company say that process is substantially complete.

"I counted 11 trucks waiting in line, and, when I went by, I looked off down in there, and there were four or five down in the field," said neighbor Steve Stevens.

All the trucks coming and going for weeks have made an impact.

"M Highway -- it's tore up real bad all the way down to just a little ways past where the spill is," Stephens said.

Neighbors dealt with the highway being closed for about five days, and now have to drive carefully over the damage.

"It's not something that you take that road on at the regular speed we used to travel on that road, for sure. People are going to be dealing with that until they get a new top put on that road," Stephens said.

The Missouri Department of Transportation says it's been doing some patchwork on Highway M and Highway WW while the cleanup progresses. A spokeswoman they say MoDOT will do more extensive repair work once the oil spill cleanup is complete.

Enbridge says it will reimburse the state for all the repair work done in conjunction with the spill. And it say its staff is consulting with MoDOT to re-route traffic so permanent repairs can take place.

"We've nevertheless got a major repair bill coming on a section of that road," Stephens said.

Enbridge says it will continue to investigate to ensure all the oil has been collected, but offers no timeline on cleanup. So far, there's no news of contamination in area wells, so residents hope the roads are the worst impact.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources says staff will continue to monitor about a dozen private water wells in the area on a weekly basis.


Michael Barnes, a spokesman for Enbridge, sent this statement by email on Monday afternoon:

"Since Jan. 16, our crews have been in regular contact with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) regarding possible impacts to local roadways and potential detours for traffic as the result of our repair and clean-up efforts. We have worked with MoDOT to route traffic for temporary repairs to the roadways, and are consulting with them to re-route traffic around our pump station so that permanent repairs can take place.

"Enbridge will reimburse the State for all repair work that is done in conjunction with the January event.

"As far as the clean-up efforts, removal of impacted soil is substantially complete. On-going investigations will ensure that all free oil has been collected.

"The cause of the release is under investigation. Our focus is doing the right thing and being a good neighbor in this community."