Two oil companies with operations that may be shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency will try to clean up a contaminated section of an Oklahoma creek.
Warren American Oil Co. and Jireh Resources LLC will pump salty water out of one of the deepest holes in Bird Creek in Osage County to see if fresh water takes its place. The companies said they aren't taking responsibility for the contamination, which isn't on land under their leases.
Problems began last year when fish began dying in the creek and an oily sheen appeared on the water. The EPA ordered a stop at production wastewater injection wells in August while it investigated. The agency said the wells created underground pressure that caused the salty wastewater to move into the creek.
The companies approached the EPA and other local officials for permission to conduct the project.
"This is one of the deepest holes, and it still has a higher concentration of salt water," said Doug Norton, chief operating officer at Warren American Oil Co. "We are absolutely convinced that our operations had nothing to do with the contamination, but the EPA order would shut us in, so we need to do whatever we can to help everyone understand what's going on out there. I think this is something we can do, and it's a reasonable thing to do."
Warren American sought out advice from University of Tulsa professor Kerry Sublette, who has studied salt water spills and supervised remediation projects in Osage County for nearly 25 years. Sublette recommended pumping out the creek.
The EPA will observe the work this week and continue the investigation into the contamination, EPA spokesman David Gray said.