DNR investigating oil spill in Fond du Lac creek

CREATED Mar 27, 2013

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FOND DU LAC - A heating oil leak could soon find its way into a popular Wisconsin lake, and people who live nearby are concerned it will damage wildlife.

The leak is reportedly under control, but you can still see the effects in the water. Folks around Fond du Lac want answers.

"You could smell it before you could see it," said Mark Lavrenz.

Lavrenz knew something was wrong. Out for a walk with his dogs this week, he smelled a thick, oily stench coming from nearby De Neveu Creek. Heating oil somehow made its way into the water.

"This is not something that you'd like to see in your town,” Lavrenz said. “Not at all, and I'm sensitive to any issue that damages the watershed."

The oil shimmering on the creek's surface is still evident, and Lavrenz and other home owners are concerned the fuel will travel downstream, into Lake Winnebago.

The Department of Natural Resources is now on the case. Firefighters placed boom lines, while spill experts tracked the source of the leak to a generator shed owned by Fond du Lac County. Heating oil had overflowed and soaked into a drainage system, and was pumped into the water.

Ted Amman with the Department of Natural Resources said they don’t know how much was pumped into the creek, but they have an estimate.

“Well, it's probably in the order of 50 to 100 gallons or less," Amman said.

Crews are working to pump oil from the building to holding tanks, but citizens like Mark Lavrenz just hope the spill hasn't caused any major damage.

"From the levels I saw yesterday, and the discoloration in the water yesterday, I would say the majority of it is on its way to Lake Winnebago if not already in there," Lavrenz added.

The DNR does say the spill is contained, and they don't believe much, if any, oil made it to the lake.