By Jack Money
TUTTLE — A failing stretch of Cemetery Road covered with a sticky oil just off State Highway 37 here is snagging the attention of residents and that of town, county and state officials.
On Wednesday, about 40 people gathered at Tuttle’s city offices to talk about the road, what might have caused its failure and how the resulting problem will be addressed.
Grady County Commissioner Mike Walker, who handles road building and maintenance issues there, said the problem appeared about two months ago along a stretch of road that passes an active oil and gas drilling location.
Walker also said he plans to either repair or rebuild the affected area, but not until after the drilling operations have concluded.
After the meeting, Walker said he believes a diesel-based substance contaminated the oil-chipped roadway, causing it to deteriorate and push to the surface tack oil used by road builders as a binding agent.
He said the problem happened quickly, which suggests to him that something was spilled on the roadway, noting that section of road is frequently used by a contractor supporting the drilling rig.
The contractor, he explained, routinely takes bore cuttings from the rig’s mud pits to apply them in a pasture on the road’s other side.
He said a leak of fluid from that type of vehicle could be responsible, especially if the mud includes a diesel-like chemical as part of its composition, though he stressed that a specific incident where that might have happened hasn’t been identified.
“It is starting to melt the road” along that stretch, Walker said, adding that northbound motorists headed through the area are carrying the sticky oil onto SH 37, where it is being further spread.
Matt Skinner, a spokesman for Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission, said Wednesday both commission oil and gas and pollution abatement inspectors and supervisors are evaluating the situation.
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