The Owego Creek Oil Spill Still Poisons Fish and Wildlife in Upstate New York

The Owego Creek Oil Spill Still Poisons Fish and Wildlife in Upstate New York

Oil sheen contained in Talbert Channel near site of last year’s major O.C. pipeline spill.

A massive pipeline spill that spilled over one-third of Lake Ontario this summer is still poisoning fish and other wildlife in a swath of upstate New York.

But there’s a silver lining: The spill, which caused the death of two people, left behind only a small amount of pollution, experts say, and it’s not likely to harm the shoreline or coastal fish and seals, experts say.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s ongoing investigation into the July 6 flow of oil through the Owego Creek Waterway is focusing on the spill’s impact on the nearby river, which flows through New York farmland and past a resort community on the shore of Lake Ontario. But the department still is trying to determine the source of the oil and is still trying to determine if it might be toxic, officials say.

The incident left the Owego Creek Waterway with a chemical slick that covered three miles of shoreline that runs along the eastern edge of the state, north of Rochester and south of Seneca Lake.

In the wake of the spill’s discovery, the DEC said it was considering conducting another toxicology test on samples from contaminated soil taken by investigators after the initial two-day investigation.

“We need to take it back to the laboratory again,” DEC Commissioner George Kast said of the tests. The agency is still looking for answers about the origin of the spill and to determine if it can be linked to a known chemical found in household cleaners. The tests could help shed light on how this oil flowed from the farm fields through the pipeline, though the cause has not yet been determined, officials said.

The DEC’s findings of the first day of its investigation were released late this week. Investigators said they had concluded that a farmer who leases part of the land

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