PHOTOS: Lubricating oil spill from Wilder Dam into the Connecticut River reaches to White River Junction

Oil not expected to pose a health hazard to local communities

LEBANON - Lebanon firefighters and workers from Great River Hydro put absorbent booms across sections of the Connecticut River below the Wilder Dam Friday morning following a large spill of generator lubricating oil that took place overnight inside the "power house" at the hydroelectric generating station on the Vermont side of the dam.

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    Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopoulos said that although the initial spill inside the facility was estimated at between some 400-to-500 gallons of the lubricating product, the actual amount which seeped out into the river was much less.

    Great River Hydro spokesman Matthew Cole said Friday afternoon that it appeared between 15 and 20 gallons of the oil had actually reached the Connecticut.

Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopoulos (left) watches a containment boom being loaded into a boat

    "Because of the nature of the product it floats on water and once it gets stirred around a little bit it'll look more dramatic than it is,"  the fire chief explained, adding "Once the sun hits it will be gone before you know it."

    Lebanon firefighters were notified at 6:20 a.m. after someone walking along the Lyman Bridge on Bridge Street noted a sheen moving downriver and from there crews backtracked and traced the source up to the dam.

    Chief Christopoulos described the clean-up effort on the river itself as largely precautionary in nature, saying the oil would not pose any threat to local water supplies and noting that members of the Windsor Fire Department had checked from the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge and had not seen any evidence that the spill had reached that far south.

Technicians from Great River Hydro deployed a "hard boom" beneath the Lyman Bridge which links West Lebanon and White River Junction

    "This will be all gone before the day is over.  It's likely that most of it will be contained here and they are purposely not releasing water from the dam because they don't want to push it any further down river," the chief said.

    Cole, the spokesman for Great River Hydro, said that automated alarms inside the power station first picked up on the problem.

    "Late Thursday evening there was an oil leak that was detected inside the station by some of our monitoring systems and crews have been onsite since that discovery controlling and cleaning up the situation," he said, continuing "The majority of the oil was contained by a secondary containment system inside the station but a small amount was released.  As of now everything has been repaired and they are looking into what caused it and remedies are being instituted."

    Cole said that "state agencies are involved", including the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services which was sending representatives up from Concord, as well as a private environmental contractor hired by Great River Hydro to help with the cleanup.

    "It should all be taken care of today," Cole said, adding, "We just had a great amount of cooperation from the local emergency services."

More hard boom material arriving under the bridge

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