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Oil spill worsens flood

Tue., July 3, 2007

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. – An oil spill added to the misery caused by widespread flooding Monday as thousands of evacuees in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas waited for water to recede from their homes.

Kansas got a break from the weather Monday, but more rain was scattered over Texas and eastern Oklahoma, the latest in nearly two weeks of storms. It was the 20th straight day that rain had fallen in Oklahoma City.

“It’s such a dynamic situation,” said Parker County, Texas, spokesman Joel Kertok. “We get a break, and then it starts raining again.”

A pumping malfunction during the weekend allowed 42,000 gallons of crude oil to escape from the Coffeyville Resources refinery into the swollen Verdigris River in south-central Kansas, producing a floating slick that could be seen and smelled from the air. The goo coated pets, possessions and emergency workers.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency had teams on the scene, said Jim Miller, Montgomery County emergency manager. About a third of the homes in Coffeyville and a quarter of homes in Independence had been evacuated, he said, and water intakes for Coffeyville, Independence and Elk City had been shut down.

“We’re very concerned. It’s chemicals mixed with water,” said Coffeyville Mayor Virgil Horn, whose own home was submerged.

The oil was floating downriver toward Oklahoma and that state’s Oologah Lake, about 30 miles northeast of Tulsa, said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the Kansas adjutant general.

An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people were forced from their homes during the weekend around Bartlesville and Dewey because of flooding from the Caney River in northeast Oklahoma, said Kary Cox, Washington’s County’s emergency management director.


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