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DEC says Seneca Lake petroleum spill cleanup is finished: Questions still unanswered about who owns property

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that the cleanup of the petroleum-based liquid that spilled into the north end of Seneca Lake on March 4 has been completed. The DEC’s Region 8 office in Avon stated that its Division of Environmental Remediation Spills oversaw a “comprehensive cleanup of the spill” last week.


An absorbent boom remains in the drainage ditch that leads to Marsh Creek as a precaution, and DEC officials continue to monitor the situation. The boom will be removed when no additional impacts are observed. The DEC released an overhead drone photo showing the north end of the lake on Friday, indicating no spill in the water.

Investigation underway after large petroleum spill into Marsh Creek, Seneca Lake
Aerial view of the spill entering Seneca Lake. Photo credit: @tspfeffer – Finger Lakes Film Co. 

The material leaked from an uncovered 250-gallon container on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Buffalo Street and made its way into the lake through the tributary Marsh Creek. The owner of the property where the container was located is unknown, and the enforcement investigation is ongoing. The owner of the container and property will not be identified until the probe is completed.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

The DEC spill response team and local emergency services were notified of the possible petroleum spill around 5 p.m. on March 4. An initial investigation showed the container was leaking fuel onto the ground and into a storm sewer that empties into Marsh Creek before draining into the lake.

Mitigation included placing a harbor boom around the city wastewater treatment plant outfall in the lake, along with sorbent booms and pads in the lake and along various areas of Marsh Creek. A vacuum truck was used to collect puddles of spilled petroleum on the ground. Residents of the area where the spill occurred did not have to take any precautionary measures, according to DEC officials.