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Bangor Oil Spill E21306

Site Contact:
Ashley Nilsen
On-Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
Pennsylvania Ave & First Street
Bangor, PA 18013
NRC#: 1302279

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded to an oil discharge into Martins Creek from Spring 2021 to March 2022, in the Borough of Bangor. Oil was entering the creek from a storm sewer outfall, from a crack in the sewer on 8th Street. The source of the spill is not known.

Under a Unified Command (UC) - a multi-agency team consisting of EPA, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Northampton County Emergency Management, and Bangor Borough investigated the source of this release throughout 2021. 

Site Cleanup Activities and Current Status

Crews secured the affected area of the creek with containment boom and constructed an underflow dam where the storm sewer system discharges to the creek. Over 2,000 gallons of oil have been recovered to date using a vacuum truck and absorbent material. EPA also disposed of one roll-off container which had 2.3 tons of saturated boom and absorbent pads, along with contaminated debris from river banks.

EPA completed installation of an Aqua-Swirl™ oil/water separator (OWS) during the week of September 27, 2021 at the Bangor Oil Spill Site. The OWS went into effect immediately after installation and filtered out oil from the storm water collection system. EPA continued to monitor the amount of oil collected in the OWS through late December 2021. The source investigation for the origin of the oil was halted due to the lack of oil accumulation in the collection system.

The OWS was taken offline on March 4, 2022 and Bangor Public Works will have the tools necessary to reactivate the OWS if needed in the future. Should the need arise, the OWS can be easily reintroduced into the system if the township decides to reinstate it. 

For questions or concerns, please contact EPA On-Scene Coordinator Ashley Nilsen at nilsen.ashley@epa.gov or EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Katie Page at page.katherine@epa.gov.

What Are the Risks at the Site?

The goal of EPA’s cleanup work at the site was to ensure that the potential risks for human health and the environment are addressed. It is important to note that residents in the affected area are connected to public drinking water. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission posted “fishing prohibited” signs in the area and took fish tissue samples. The fish tissue samples were taken from Brown Trout and American Eel from just below the outfall, a few hundred meters below the outfall, and upstream of the outfall.  All samples results showed that there were no polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) detected in the fish tissue.

Below are some frequently asked questions related to human health and environmental risks associated with the site. If you have immediate concerns regarding potential risks at the site, please contact Dr. Karl Markiewicz, Senior Toxicologist from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at kvm4@cdc.gov.

  • What are the factors that determine if there will be negative health impacts after being exposed to hazardous chemicals, such as fuel oils?
    • How much exposure, how long of an exposure, the pathway of the exposure (breathing, eating, drinking, skin contact), any additional chemicals that were present in the exposure, and individual characteristics (age, sex, family traits, lifestyle, state of health) are all factors that determine whether harmful health effects will occur after exposure.
  • Is my well water safe to drink?
    • Most likely, yes. However, if you notice any changes in color, odor, or taste please contact EPA.
  • If children swim in the creek, will they have a risk for cancer?
    • No, we would not expect cancer to result from exposure to fuel oil while swimming in the creek. If there is sheen or strong vapors in the creek, we would not recommend swimming or playing the creek.
  • Could there be negative health impacts from the fish people ate from the creek?
    • It is unlikely that eating fish from the creek would result in adverse health effects. Fish tissue samples from the creek have been collected and the results will be reviewed from a public health standpoint. 
  • Are farm animals at risk of dying from drinking the water?
    • It is unlikely that an animal would drink water that is highly contaminated with fuel oil.

Site Resources

Several fact sheets throughout 2021 and 2022, along with EPA Press Releases, can be found in the "Resources" column of this webpage under "Documents" and "Notices," respectively. 

For local news coverage at the site, please read:

"EPA still addressing fuel oil spilling from storm sewer into Martins Creek in Bangor for past 3 months, source of spill still unknown" published on July 8, 2021 by Andrew Scott of The Morning Call,

"Search for ongoing oil spill’s source continues in Bangor. EPA has plan to mitigate impact" published on August 24, 2021 by Steve Novak of the Lehigh Valley Live,

"Bangor creek oil leak has not harmed aquatic life, drinking water, authorities say" published on August 24, 2021 by Andrew Scott of the Morning Call.

For additional information, visit the Notices section.