Oil spill closes down marina

Published 11:05 pm Saturday, August 1, 2009

An oil leak from a tugboat led to the temporary closure of City Marina on Saturday.

The vessel left the marina at 7 a.m. bound for the Dixie Pellet plant 12 miles away. As it traveled upriver, it left a trail of oil and sludge behind.

“[The tugboat] apparently experienced some mechanical problems,” said Grady Springer, an environmental scientist with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. “It was making its way back upriver, and it was discharging various engine oils, diesel, that kind of thing as it was going back up.”

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Springer said officials didn’t know how much oil was deposited into the river or how long it would take to clean up.

He said measures were taken to prevent the oil from spreading too far.

“They stopped putting water through at the dam to try and slow any migration of any oil,” said Springer. “The river’s moving, so, obviously, if you’ve got something in it, it’s going to move.”

Dallas County EMA Director Rhonda Abbott confirmed the marina’s closing Saturday.

“They have not been letting boats in the marina,” said Abbott. “We have let boats come out of the marina that were in the river, but we have not let boats go into the river.”

The Selma Fire Department was one of the first agencies to respond to the spill. Battalion Chief Mike Stokes said ADEM suggested it would be best to close the marina.

Probate Judge Kim Ballard said the spill should teach a lesson in maintenance.

“We’re going to have an immediate, dangerous environmental issue with this,” he said. “You can learn from them.”

Though the sludge is not a positive for the marina, it is not expected to have a long-lasting impact on the environment.

“There’s not going to be any horrific consequences from it,” said Springer. “We haven’t seen anything that we would really expect anything too tragic to happen.”