On August 17, 2004 the EPA was requested by the Johnson County Environmental Department to respond to an oil spill that was discovered in an unnamed tributary of Mill Creek in Johnson County, Olathe, Kansas. The incident was reported by a local resident that lived on Huntington Circle (Street) through the local emergency response network. Federal On-Scene Coordinators Joe Davis and Heath Smith responded to the incident scene at approximately 1900 hours on the 17th of August.
Prior to EPA presence, the Johnson County Environmental Department and Olathe Fire Department (FD) had been on scene. The FD had constructed an underflow containment dam, had categorized the oil and had performed an investigation of the incident trying to determine the responsible party. The FD had determined that the oil was most likely waste motor oil and they indicated that they believe the oil was dumped directly in the creek or storm drain. The FD believed the oil had originated from one or more 5 gallon buckets located in front of one of the homes on Huntington Circle.
On the evening of August 17, FOSC Davis and Smith began searching for a source of the oil that was found in the unnamed tributary. A large storm drain emptied into the unnamed tributary in the vicinity of the contamination. Although the 5 gallon buckets identified by the FD were a potential source, the FOSCs thought it appropriate to investigate the storm sewer further. An light oil sheen was discovered to exist in the storm drain near Santa Fe Avenue, nearly 1,500 feet south of the storm water outfall into the unnamed tributary
On the morning of August 18, 2004, FOSC Smith returned to the scene. He was met there by Betsy Livingston of the Johnson County Health Department and Tom Winn of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment North East Field Office. A further investigation of the oil sheen in the storm sewer began. The three traced the sheen across Santa Fe Blvd, but lost the trail near the O’Reillys Auto Parts located at 913 East Santa Fe. Although the sheen was traced to this point, no source was ever located. The sheen was light, and it was never determined if it was from the source of the oil spill or if it was normal discharge from the high automobile traffic area around Santa Fe Blvd.
Since no Responsible Party and no source were identified and because the FOSCs determined that the oil needed to be cleaned up to mitigate impacts to human health and the environment, the Oil Pollution Fund was Activated on August 18, 2004 and EPA Emergency Response (ERRS) contractors were mobilized to the site.
Approximately 1,000 feet of an unnamed tributary between an area behind the homes on the Huntington Circle cul-de-sac and Kansas City Road was impacted by oil discharge from an unknown source. Estimates of the amount of oil in the creek range from less than 5 gallons to 35 gallons. The source of the oil is thought to either be 5 gallon buckets of used motor oil located at a residence on Huntington Circle or from the storm drain that discharges into the unnamed tributary where the oil contamination occurred. The unnamed tributary was an intermittent stream. The stream was flowing at a rate of 5 to 25 gallons per minute. Most of the flow came from the storm water drain described earlier in this document. For the most part the oil was contained by the natural habitat of the creek, rocks and leaves and logs and such. The FD had constructed an underflow down gradient near the intersection of the unnamed tributary and Kansas City Road. A large pool of oil existed near the point of discharge of the storm sewer into the unnamed tributary. Other pools of oil existed along the creek bed between the discharge area and the underflow dam.
On Wednesday August 18, 2004, the EPA responded to oil contamination that was found to exist in the unnamed tributary of Mill Creek in Olathe Kansas. EPA mobilized a crew of Emergency Response contractors (ERRS). The ERRS contractors utilized sorbent pads, peat moss, leaf blowers, sorbent boom and hard boom, to contain and soak up the oil. Waste generated by this process was collected and disposed. Currently the oil discovered on August 17 has been removed.
The Johnson County Environmental Department and City of Olathe is expected to monitor the storm water drain for future events in order to attempt to identify the source.
No further activity is planned at this time
Source of the oil may be illegal dumping. The storm sewer system that empties into the unnamed tributary is extensive. There are several automobile services located in the area that the storm sewer drains.