Junk in the river

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Last week's Jenks Journal has an interview with Brent Gordon, an Oklahoma Wildlife Department biologist based in Jenks, about the tremendous amount of rubbish and debris in the Arkansas River:

Gordon says he would like to see someone get concerned about other things in the river - junk - everything from Wal-Mart shopping carts to remnants of yesteryear's visionaries....

Gordon says he has not seen any thing in the paper work nor has he heard any discussion about what is to become of the huge pieces of metal, mounds of steel cable, overall trash, shopping carts and steel pipes so prevalent in the river.

"Are we just going to flood the river over this stuff," he questions.

A call to Wal-Mart about the carts only brings a shrug. Who can prevent people from pushing the carts off the side of the nearby drainage ditch where the next downpour will deposit them into the river. The Wal-Mart logos on the handles are still visible on some of the carts. Others, as many as two dozen are all but buried in the sand.

Less likely to disappear, except by raising the water level are huge amounts of what looks like old oilfield and construction equipment. Pipes are everywhere, some protruding vertical from the river bed and bubbling.

A huge, broken barge or perhaps the remnants of Jenks old ferry system rests near bank erosion and other junk at the bank at the north side of the RiverWalk development. Except where old concrete, brick and building parts have been dumped, high dollar real estate is gully washing into the river.

On the TulsaNow forum, Steve Smith, who used to run airboat tours on the Arkansas, comments:

I have made note to anyone who cares to listen of the debris scattered along the river. No one has really cared. Since the river has been invisible to passing traffic it suffers from "out of sight-out of mind". It is particularly bad under the bridges where old bridge structures were just pushed into the river making for future difficulty in navagation. That is a state responsibility.

Some may find it hard to believe, but it gets worse the farther downstream you go. Jenks debris is much more visible because of the lower water levels and increased populations in that area. Lighting their pedestrian bridge really shows off the trash. Much of it is oilfield equipment but equally to blame are sand dredging companies. Oil company cleanups that are advertised on TV restoring Blue Bird camps need to spend some of that money reclaiming the pipelines and driiling equipment they left in the river. Sand dredging companies need to follow suit and the state needs to hold contractors liable.

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2 Comments

One thing I've always noticed is the sheer amount of old tires. Sometimes when the river is low upstream from the low water damn (especially west Tulsa), the whole riverbed is dotted with tires.
Quite unsightly.
How the heck did they all get there? Has to be thousands of them.

sbtulsa said:

whose jurisdiction is the river, legally and governmentally?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 2, 2006 8:28 PM.

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