Fuel Contaminants Reaching White River Five Years After Leak

OCTOBER 4, 2006 - Posted at 7:51 a.m. CDT

COTTER, AR - Arkansas environmental officials are trying to determine how fuel contaminants, possibly a petroleum leak five years ago, made their way into the White River.

Leaking gasoline tanks were found in 2001 at the now defunct Cotter Oil Company near the R.M. Ruthven Bridge.  Crews removed the tanks, lines, dispensers and surrounding soil.  Wells also were installed to monitor the petroleum's movement.

Mikel Shinn, a geologist with the state Department of Environmental Quality, said that since the cleanup, residents fishing on the river have seen changing colors in a specific area.

The Cotter Oil Company site is about 750 feet from the river, leading Shinn to believe the fuel is moving through rock cracks and may be in a cave or depression.

Contractors have been working with the department, conducting surveys near the White River to help determine how the petroleum is getting into the water.  Shinn said a report on the surveys should be completed by the end of December.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)