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NEO A&M College Cooperating with Department of Environmental Quality Investigation

Updated:
OTTAWA COUNTY, OK -

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College is under investigation. The state Department of Environmental Quality says it's received complaints that oil was being directed into Tar Creek on the college campus.

Work is already being done to clean up a mess at NEO A&M College.

The Oklahoma DEQ is investigating the situation after receiving tips that storm water containing oil was being directed from a campus bus barn to a nearby storm drain. That drain leads to Tar Creek.

“We don't yet have a good estimate of how much oil and potential other vehicle fluids have entered into the storm drain and as a result into tar creek, we are still investigating that,” says Skylar McElhaney with the DEQ.

School officials say historically storm water has been pumped out of that area and that they were following the protocols in place. They add that they have nothing to hide and that it was accidental.

“Shortly after we started pumping on Thursday, we realized that there was some oil and contamination in the water and we immediately stopped pumping at that time,” says Mark Rasor, NEO Vice President.

The DEQ is still speaking to witnesses to determine if it was unintentional. The top priority is cleaning up the oil.

“Our goal is compliance and providing technical assistance to responsible parties so that they can get back into compliance,” says McElhaney.

NEO was given a deadline of June 21 to clean up and they've already placed "oil pigs," or pads that only absorb oil and not water in all of the drains and along the creek.

“Nobody is more committed to maintaining the cleanliness of Tar Creek and that entire area than we are. We're going to go to great lengths to make sure this never happens again,” says Rasor.

The DEQ will be testing water samples and have more information in the coming weeks. NEO officials say they are also working with the DEQ to come up with a different method of removing storm water from the bus barn.

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