Date set for completion of refinery cleanup

by Todd Brooks

If all goes according to plan the remediation of the old oil refinery in Meridian could be completed by the end of 2021, representatives from Phillips 66 and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality reported to Stephens County commissioners earlier this month.

Phillips 66 inherited the property more than a decade ago and slowly and methodically have been remediating the property ever since.

“Four hundred acres have already been remediated,” Tom Wynn, Phillips 66 program manager, said.

The clean-up has not gone without controversy, most notably several years ago when a smell was coming from the area. The company was impounding the contaminated dirt and hauling it off and it was releasing a terrible smell, especially if the wind was blowing the right way and it blew the smell toward homes in Meridian.

Unfortunately for residents, that project took several months to complete. District 3 commissioner Russell Morgan said the company took 4,000 truckloads of dirt to Ninnekah, where it was stabilized.

Wynn did say the company has less than 20 acres to finish the job, but that portion should be complete in two to three weeks.
“There will be odors associated with the job, but we will be testing to make sure that there is nothing harmful being released,” Wynn said.

Phillips 66 will also be adding fences around water retention ponds. The ponds will make sure there is no run-off to Claridy Creek, a problem that existed before.

The county will be responsible for the general upkeep such as mowing and low-end maintenance of the facility, but Phillips 66 will be responsible for any major projects that arise.

“Stephens County is not going to have any liability associated with it,” Wynn said. “Phillips 66 will ensure Stephens County won’t have any financial liability.”

The company also purchased approximately 40 acres east of the railroad tracks, which it will donate to the county as part of the agreement between the company, county and ODEQ.

Testing sites will be put in around the property and checked regularly to make sure there is no contamination.

Morgan said some people have inquired through the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation (DAEDF) about the property.

That is why Morgan had invited Phillips 66 and ODEQ to the commissioners’ meeting to give an update. DAEDF director Lyle Roggow was also present.

Morgan said residences or schools would not be able to be built on the property, only industrial-type businesses will be allowed. He has been impressed with all the work the company has been doing to get the place cleaned up and to make sure it does not get contaminated again.

“We’ll come out ahead on the agreement,” Morgan said. “It may bring in a few jobs as an added benefit.”

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