Greenville Starts Tawakoni Pump

Article By: Paula Reeves
The Tawakoni News, April 20, 2000

Greenville Water Department will begin pumping water from Lake Tawakoni on Monday after having their pumps shut down since the spill dumped half a million gallons of gasoline into the creek and subsequently into Lake Tawakoni. Greenville has not pumped water from Lake Tawakoni since March 9 when a pipeline spilled a half million gallons of fuel into Caddo Creek.

Although there are no detectable levels of MTBE in the lake at this time, Greenville water department has installed an air device that will remove any MTBE if it should become a problem in the future.

On the hills of a remediation plan by Explorer Pipeline to immediately remove soil from the site where the pipe rupture occurred, Dallas still refuses to pump water from the lake. Mike Rickman, assistant director of Dallas Water Operations, said that this was not enough.

"We need to see a more in-depth plan that covers every aspect of the spill, including soil cleanup and future water contamination. Usually when we receive a remediation plan, it consists of several documents, not just one document," said Rickman.

Rickman said that a lawsuit had been discussed by the city of Dallas and was possible, but was not certain, and would only be considered if the matter was not settled to their satisfaction.

"We just want to be absolutely certain that the water is safe for the citizens of Dallas," said Rickman.

The document that Explorer pipeline presented at the Dallas City Council meeting outlined the isolation of approximately 30,000 cubic yards of soil. Explorer agreed to this even though outside independent experts are certain that 99% of the MTBE has already evaporated and poses no danger to the water supply.

Explorer told officials the accelerated and unconventional response could cost over a million dollars. However, they agreed to begin isolation and removal of the soil because of concerns by the city of Dallas.

"This will put an enormous and immediate burden on our resources, especially since our experts say MTBE is not detectable (less than 0.67 parts per billion or one teaspoon of sugar added to 1.2 million gallons of iced tea) in Lake Tawakoni and has been that way at the Dallas water intake since March 30," said Rod Sands, vice president of operations for Explorer.

"However, this region has experienced and abnormal two-year drought, and we want to support the city's efforts to provide an excellent and healthy supply of water."

Explorer also announced approval of a $4.1 million expenditure to inspect the pipeline from Dallas to Tulsa, approximately 250 miles. The company will utilize a high technology internal inspections device that uses ultrasound to verify the integrity of the pipeline. This particular tool is the only one of its kind in the world. In the industry the machine is called a "Smart Pig", because the first generations of the machine squealed when inserted in the pipe.

"We are confident the pipeline is sound," said Sands. "The NTSB will take many months to conclude its investigation of the accident. This Pig is the best technology available, and we expect the process to begin by the end of April."

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