HEBRON — Federal environmental officials have reassured the state Department of Environmental Protection that the department’s analysis, strategy and plan to recover about 1,100 gallons of oil in the wetlands next to Hebron Station School is on target.

Stephen Flannery, a DEP oil and hazardous materials specialist, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientific support coordinator Steve Lehmann has told state officials to “stay the course” as it begins to increase its monitoring of the oil under the snow.

The DEP also contacted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for any recommendations regarding monitoring the outdoor air quality as the snow and ice melts, DEP spokeswoman Jessamine Logan said.

Flannery, Lehmann and Sheryl Bernard, head of the Department of Environmental Protection site response team, were in the wetlands next to the elementary school Wednesday morning to check on the status of the oil. They are expected to return Thursday to secure the perimeter of the area with absorbent pads as the snow melts and concerns grow over the movement of the oil.

More than 1,500 gallons of oil leaked out of the school basement tank shortly after midnight Dec. 25 as it was being filled by a driver from the C.N. Brown oil company of South Paris. A total of 192 gallons were recovered from the wetlands next to the school by absorbent pads and most of the rest has been captured in ice and snow. Flannery said the oil spill in the wetlands is about the size of a football field but has not moved since the initial spill.

School officials closed the school for more than a week after the spill. The gymnasium, which is next to the oil tank room, was closed for two months while state environmental and school officials monitored the air quality.

DEP officials said the school’s well water is not contaminated and will be monitored monthly.

Flannery warned that once the oil is exposed to air as the snow melts, there will be a smell. He said there is “no question” but people may be able to smell the oil in the open air once the snow melts.

“There’s going to be a smell,” he said. “You can smell oil at very low level, especially in open air.”

Flannery said when the time is right, the oil will be gathered from the wetlands using absorbent pads and a vacuum truck.

Because oil tends to float on water, most of it is being captured under the snow which is acting as a barrier. “There’s no way to access it under the snow,” he said.

“We keep on monitoring it,” Flannery said.

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