Crews return to Hammond site of mysterious oil leak in 1997

2012-10-07T19:00:00Z Crews return to Hammond site of mysterious oil leak in 1997Steve Zabroski Times Correspondent
October 07, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Investigators are returning to the site where an oil leak fouled the Grand Calumet River 15 years ago to determine if any of the petroleum remains underground.

Six transcontinental pipelines cross the river at White Oak Avenue — the city's border with East Chicago — where an oily sheen appeared in 1997 and spread to the nearby Roxana Marsh.

Hundreds of cubic yards of petroleum-tainted soil were removed from around adjacent homes by workers from the former Amoco during a two-month cleanup, but no source of the contamination was definitively proven.

Atlantic-Richfield Co., like Amoco now a part of the multinational oil giant BP, received approval last week to sink a number of groundwater monitoring wells in the area to check for any remaining petroleum in the soil.

The adjacent marsh was recently cleaned up as part of an $80 million federal-state remediation effort. With water levels at historic lows due to the past summer's drought, now is a good time to investigate, said Ron Novak, director of the Hammond Department of Environmental Management.

Residents on White Oak Avenue and Roosevelt Street, which is known as Roxana Drive in East Chicago, will be notified by company representatives before the work begins, Novak said.

A cleanup of contaminated soil also is scheduled for the 6700 and 6800 blocks of New Jersey Avenue in the Hessville area, where street reconstruction work uncovered an apparently old oil pocket.

City Engineer Stan Dostatni said Bascor Environmental Inc. will monitor cleanup of the material so the street repairs can be completed.

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