EPA has been involved in plugging oil wells and cleaning up oil spills in and around Boyd's Creek since 1983. Approximately fifteen leaking, abandoned oil wells in the general area have been located and plugged by EPA, with the majority of the plugging taking place between 1991 and 1993. The leaking wells have been the result of historically poor drilling and plugging techniques combined with the particular hydrogeologic conditions in the area.
The Boyd's Creek III Site consists of a karst spring that discharges oil and high-sulfur water. An oil containment and collection system has been in operation at the Site since the mid-1990s. To date, approximatley 40,000 gallons of crude oil have been collected. This oil would have otherwise have discharged directly to navigable waters of the United States.
The present oil discharge appears to be the result of one, or several improperly abandoned oil wells. Records indicate that a well or wells were possibly located at the site of the present discharge. One well located within fifteen feet of the existing discharge has been plugged. However, plugging the well had no measurable effect on the rate of oil discharge at the impacted spring. In August 2004 EPA discovered two additonal abandoned oil wells upgradient of the spring. These wells were plugged, and during the coming months EPA will monitor the spring to determine whether the reate of oil discharge decreases.
Update: May 2014 - Further investigation for abandoned subsurface oil wells/bore holes of the flood plain and farmland upgradient of the oil water collection system is planned for June 2014. Since early 2008, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has been operating and maintaining the oil-water collection system along the Boyds Creek flood plain under an interagency agreement with EPA. Currently, Perry Gaughan is the OSC providing oversight and the NPFC case officer is Steve Peelish.