Highland closes part of Silver Lake due to apparent petroleum spill

An apparent petroleum spill has temporarily closed part of Silver Lake.

Highland City Manager Chris Conrad confirmed that a fisherman noticed a sheen on the water early Saturday morning, which was confirmed by the Grantfork Fire Department at the Illinois 160 bridge.

Conrad said the Highland Fire Department deployed its own oil boom at the mouth of Silver Creek on the far north end of the lake.

“I just spoke to the fire department lieutenant who said they are not seeing any buildup, but a small amount of sheen north of the boom,” Conrad said.

As a precaution, the city has closed Silver Lake north of Silver Lake Road to keep people away from the deployed boom. However, that portion of the lake is really only accessible to kayaks and canoes, Conrad said.

In 2015, a break in the Capwood pipeline spilled an estimated 4,200 gallons of crude oil into the Silver Lake watershed, which required a massive cleanup operation managed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies.

The Capwood pipeline connects an oil storage facility with the refinery in Wood River. In that incident, Silver Lake was closed for more than a week to allow deployment of 2,700 booms to soak up the oil and crews to protect the lake.

Conrad said both the pipeline company and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency have been contacted.

“We are also deploying our drone to try and locate the source,” he said. “It appears to be a pretty minor amount, (but) we are still investigating.”

So far, Conrad said, everything seems confined to the far north end of the lake and inside the creek, which means there is no threat to Highland’s water supply at this time.

However, he said they would continue to monitor the situation.