Somes said police believe someone changed oil from a diesel engine behind CJ's Auto Detailing, 1000 S. Main St., and poured the used oil down a drain. He said the drain goes into the city's water drainage system and the oil ended up in a small creek that feeds into what is commonly called Poole Lake.
Officials said the Lindale Fire Department put out oil absorbing buoys in several locations to contain the spill and keep it from contaminating the lake. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will be charged with cleaning the spill.
Tommy Goodman, Smith County's litter abatement officer, said TCEQ should have the spill completely cleaned up by the end of Monday or Tuesday.
“You take a coffee cup full of oil and you can contaminate up to half a million gallons of fresh water,” he said. “That could have done a lot of damage if it got into the lake.”
Goodman said he thinks the oil was dumped sometime Sunday morning, but officials were lucky there have not been recent rains that would have carried the substance to the lake more quickly.
Officials said Smith County game wardens, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Railroad Commission also were notified of the spill.
Goodman said he will be handling the ongoing investigation, and the perpetrator could potentially be facing a third-degree felony illegal dumping charge. He said anyone with information on the incident could call his office at 903-590-4901.