A Fox Chapel family has been unable to return to their home for nearly 10 days as officials work to determine the source of oil that seeped into their yard and flooded the area with fumes over the Thanksgiving weekend.
John Poister, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said Monday that the oil that “burped” to the surface at 755 Bending Oak Lane Nov. 30 is believed to have come from a long-abandoned oil well on the property.
“The question is: exactly where on the property?” Mr. Poister wrote in an e-mail. “There are no maps that show a well and aside from where the petroleum came up to the surface there is no sign of a well.”
Bob Smith, a Fox Chapel Borough code enforcement officer, said officials hadn't yet determined when the owners, identified in Allegheny County property records as Charles and Eileen Campbell, will be able to return amid concerns that fumes from the seepage might be hazardous.
“We’re anticipating them being able to come back. We just don’t know what the timetable is at this point,” Mr. Smith said.
Mr. Poister said the contaminated soil has been cleaned up and there has been no new oil. However, a consultant hired by the family or municipality and specialized equipment, such as magnetic devices to locate pipes, might be necessary to find and cap the old well, he added. A gas alarm system installed in the house could also monitor fumes and allow the family to return, he said.
Robert Zullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3909.