Spill shuts down two blocks in Buffalo

A water pipe break in a vacant building led to a mixture of water, oil and possibly chemicals spilling onto Babcock St.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Authorities had to shut down streets in Buffalo’s Seneca Babcock neighborhood Thursday morning early Thursday morning after a spill.

Crews with the Department of Environmental Conservation spent the morning on Clinton and Babcock Streets, trying to clean up the spill while collecting samples to determine what the substance is.

Authorities say the spill began when a water pipe broke in the building’s basement, leaving fluid leaking into the street that has a pungent smell.

Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak said, “The water break filled the basement of the facility and that facility leaked out some water and some petroleum product.”

The situation was first noticed around 6 p.m. Wednesday. City crews were sent to shut off the water and a valve malfunctioned, only making the situation worse.

Stepniak said, “When they went in there to shut off that valve, unfortunately that valve shifted, that’s why they had to do some excavation to shut off the valve and complete the final shut off water to the facility.”

Member of the DEC’s spill response team were on the scene for hours cleaning up the spill. They used oil absorbent pads to soak up the chemical. Afterwards they poured water on the street to clean up the leftover residue.

Stepniak says no residents were in harm’s way because of the spill. He says even though the petroleum product went down sewer lines it doesn’t flow into any local streams and instead is headed for a filtration plant.

“That’s part of the process when we have a spill like this because the sewer authority was notified immediately and they have precautions they can take at their plant to help deal with that situation,” said Stepniak.

Once the crews have finished cleaning the street, they will focus their attention inside the building. They will take a sample of the product and send it to a lab. The results will be sent to the DEC to determine what the oil substance is.

They will also try to determine where the oil came from, whether it was stored in the building or if someone poured it into the building.

The DEC and police are still investigating this case.

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