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DEC continues Olean Creek oil spill investigation; Agency response team dispatched to site after another report by citizens group

State environmental conservation officials are continuing to look into an oil spill in Olean Creek in Cattaraugus County.

A spill response team was dispatched to the site after the Department of Environmental Conservation got the complaint March 27. The small amount was cleaned up, the DEC said. But several days after that, a citizens group again reported oil in the creek.

The DEC is investigating the latest areas identified by Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County.

Jacob Mumm, a member of the group, said he took photographs and videos of the oily sheen on the water. They can be seen at

"Their cleanup, as far as I can tell, was at the site of the spill," he said.

Mumm said he believes oil has settled along the stream bank and edges of the stream. He said when someone steps into it or disturbs rocks, "large quantities" of oil are kicked up and coat the surface of the stream.

"You wouldn't see it if you were just looking at the bank," he said.

The DEC received a complaint about oil in Olean Creek at Back Hinsdale Road near Blakeslee Hollow the afternoon of March 27, spokeswoman Megan Gollwitzer said in an email.

DEC staff found an oily sheen and a small amount of a crude oil substance, believed to be five gallons or less, collecting in a tributary to Olean Creek, she said.

"DEC spill responders and minerals staff took initial measures to contain the spill by applying spill absorbent material in the affected area," Gollwitzer said.

She said the efforts were successful and no long-term effects were projected as a result of the spill. Heavy rains made it difficult to identify the origin of the spill.

DEC returned to the area March 28 and 30 to follow up on cleanup activities in that area. Spill responders also returned to inspect the area April 12 after receiving another complaint, and no oily sheens or spills were observed at that time.

Mumm said he reported the sheen on April 11. He believes the area of contamination is at least one mile long. He is concerned because the intake pipe for the Olean water treatment plant is near the spill.

The Concerned Citizens group is involved in the Water Sentinels program with the Sierra Club. The group is keeping tabs on water quality in 10 streams to get baseline levels in the event hydraulic fracturing takes place in the area.

Gollwitzer said the DEC will investigate the latest complaint "to determine if further action is warranted and to take appropriate cleanup actions if needed."