Mysterious petroleum leak in Burlington - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Mysterious petroleum leak in Burlington

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The search is on to identify the source of a petroleum leak in Burlington. Vermont Rail System employees saw an orange, oily sheen across the rail yard after Tropical Storm Irene.

"We've been trying to figure out where it's coming from," said Hugo Martinez Cazon of the Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation.

Then, officials say two years ago, they discovered the petroleum leaking into the Queen City's nearby wastewater treatment plant on the waterfront.

"It's hard to determine what's happening underground," said Chapin Spencer of Burlington Public Works. "We popped manhole covers and searched all over and found that an old clay pipe was discharging petroleum into our system."

But Spencer says that problem was fixed. They capped the broken pipe back in April and blocked the oily substance from getting into the wastewater facility. But state environmental investigators say they do not yet know the original source of the leak or how big the problem is.

"We're going to be taking some soil samples and some groundwater samples here in the rail yard. We don't yet know where it's coming from, so those are intended to narrow down where it might be coming from," Martinez Cazon said.

Burlington's Department of Public Works says they are actively working with the state during their investigation, but they say the leak was contained before it entered Lake Champlain from their facility.

"Our processes were able to remove that from the stormwater when it came down before entering the lake," Spencer said.

The city says there is no risk for drinking water or for swimmers in the lake.

The state says they hope to wrap up their investigation within the next couple of months.

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