Baby diapers may not have been the most effective way to stop an oil spill, but it did help get the job done. A mechanical malfunction at the carnival in Sarcoxie caused a major environmental mess, and now state officials are on site investigating after it was reported that the oil started flowing into Swifty Creek on Saturday from a diesel generator that was being hosed down to keep it cool. The enormous generator was used to power the rides at Chief Sarcoxie Days. Carnival employees used diapers to absorb the mess and blow-up baby pools were also used as catch basins.
Carnival workers were then caught hosing the generator again on Sunday, causing more oil to spill into the water.
Mayor Don Triplett says the fire department was brought in to intervene. They created a barrier to keep the oil from getting into the creek. The cleanup should be complete today. Triplett says all expenses associated with the clean-up will be taken care of by the carnival company’s insurance provider.
Updated Facebook Post from The City of Sarcoxie (Sunday):
As a quick update, a DNR rep has been on-site to supervise Sunbelt Environmental as they performed initial site cleanup activities. All of the absorbent pads and the items used by the carnival to contain the contaminated water have been secured and replaced with new material. All contaminated water has been consolidated into three 55-gallon drums. The original dam created by Sarcoxie Fire was deemed adequate and left in place. The plan is for final clean up to be completed on Monday. A much more detailed update will be coming as soon as we have it available.
Original Facebook Post from The City of Sarcoxie (Saturday):
A message from the Mayor
I want to address a serious problem that occurred with some of the carnival equipment during this past Chief Sarcoxie Days festival.
The carnival relies on a very large diesel generator to power up their rides and midway. During this weekend’s event, the generator developed a mechanical problem that led to it overheating. To keep the rides going, the operator used a water hose to spray the generator’s radiator to cool it. Water from this spray ran out the back of the trailer, flowed across asphalt, and ran directly into Swifty. Thankfully, several citizens reported this issue. Once informed, we worked with Chief Sarcoxie Days Committee representatives and carnival management to ensure the carnival stopped the flow in to Swifty and contained all spray.
Late Saturday afternoon, we learned the generator had not been repaired and the carnival was spraying the generator down again to keep rides going. We also discovered they had once again allowed contamination to get in to Swifty. Shortly after that, the Sarcoxie Fire Department got involved. While not equipped to handle this kind of situation, Chief Sivils was able to locate supplies to install a barrier to prevent contamination from going downstream and absorbent pads to ensure no more contamination could get to Swifty. We then continuously monitored the situation until 10 pm when we ordered the generator to be shut down after all riders were safely off the rides.
Since roughly 7 pm Saturday night, we have been in contact with the Department of Natural Resources, the Chief Sarcoxie Days Committee, an environmental cleanup company, carnival management, and most importantly the carnival’s insurance carrier to address the cleanup of the site. In talking to DNR as of 3 pm today, a DNR representative as well as a contractor are in route to the scene to begin cleanup operations. The cost of this cleanup is being directed to the carnival’s insurance carrier.
I will provide additional information as it becomes available. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who notified the City, Chief Sarcoxie Days Committee and DNR about this. People who care enough to reach out help ensure we all act responsibly.