Heavy Rains Cause Oil, Creosote to Release into Connecticut River in Middletown

NBC Connecticut

Middletown city officials and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are investigating after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Elsa caused oil and creosote to leak into the Connecticut River.

According to the mayor's office, the oil and creosote have been accumulating under railroad tracks for years. The heavy rainfall and flooding caused those chemicals to release, leaking down into the Connecticut River.

The issue was first noticed when officials received reports of a smell of oil or gas in the area of River Road, and what appeared to be oil on the surface of the river in the area.

It is not clear how much got into the river and crews are still investigating exactly what happened. The mayor's office said there is no active leak and no immediate danger to the public, though the area will continue to smell for some time.

Middletown was hard-hit by the storm. The city's iconic Palmer Field baseball stadium was nearly submerged, with the entire outfield, and perimeter of the stadium under water.

Intense rains also damaged roads. Mile Lane was partially washed out. Flooding created a crater where the road once stood.

As streets pooled with water, motorists attempted travel. One vehicle needed to be towed from a parking lot. Stranded cars were strewn throughout the city, including Lee Street where two vehicles needed assistance.

Ray Metz, who lives nearby, said the flooding was startling.

"I’m really quite surprised and was frightened for a while but was reassured by the good neighbors that it wouldn’t get much higher," he said.

The mayor said the city is currently in the midst of evaluating damage and is hoping FEMA makes an emergency declaration so they can seek federal aid.

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