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Crews Still Cleaning Oil From Norwalk Pond

NORWALK, Conn. – It’s been a week and Stella White, who has lived at Norwalk’s Sunrise Hill apartment complex for 17 years, just learned what the oil spill was in the pond she lives across from.

“Nothing has been circulated by the association,” White said. “I thought it was something in my house at first.” That was until she noticed the black drums by the pond and the strong smell of oil that has since stopped being overwhelming.

The oil spill occured on Feb. 13. About 300 to 500 gallons of heating oil from West Rocks Middle School is being cleaned up by Gardner Herbert's Herbert Recovery Systems, Inc . They’ve filled around 25 drums of oil-laden absorbent pads and booms that will be taken for incineration once the clean-up is complete. Until then the black drums are stationed next to the pond.

The drums must have special labels attached to them, said Diane Lauricella , an environmental activist and consultant in Norwalk. The labels identify them as “non-hazardous waste” and prove where they came from and where they are going.

“But just because it’s 'non-hazardous' doesn’t mean it’s not toxic,” Lauricella said.

Oil can do a lot of damage to a pond, especially to fish, which was one of the reasons she went to the site Sunday. She received calls saying there was a “fish kill” and that fish wee belly up in the pond. Employees of the cleanup company, however, said that wasn't true.

Herbert and two of his employees were at the site Sunday doing a check-up. “Today we had some emulsified oil” — or a brown foamy substance — to clean up Herbert said.

“I’m very pleased with the surface clean up here,” Herbert said. Crews had used a type of vacuum to get most of the oil from the surface the first day. “If it’s visible, we want to go after it and get it as soon as possible," he said.

Right now, the cause of the spill is unknown, and Lauricella said that the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is investigating.

“Whoever caused the spill will be held accountable for it,” Lauricella said.

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