Al.com Article

A screen shot from a video taken by Polaris Sensor Technologies shows oil in the water of Huntsville's Big Spring Park lagoon on Dec. 6, 2017. City crews have removed all the oil they could. (Contributed image)

Having your town be a high-tech center has its advantages. One of them showed this week when a sensor company found oil in Huntsville’s iconic Big Spring Park lagoon downtown.

Polaris Sensor Technologies engineer Katie McCann was strolling in the park Wednesday when she smelled and saw oil, company managers said. McCann reported the oil to the city but, unlike most people, she had a tool at her nearby office to get more data.

Located at 200 West Side Square downtown, Polaris makes sensors for military, scientific and commercial uses. One of those sensors can image oil in water using reflected thermal light. The sensor showed the spread of the oil in the lagoon. (See the Polaris video below).

The city sent a crew and notified Huntsville Fire and Rescue and the Haz Mat Team. Both responded, and oil absorbent booms were placed on the east side of the Monroe Street bridge. Vacuuming trucks were also dispatched Thursday and Friday. Meantime, Polaris sent its video to the city so it could see the size of the spill

“We have yet to determine the source of the discharge,” the city told AL.com Friday. “This is an event that could have happened some time ago and the rain we received Tuesday (the first real rain we have received in quite a while) flushed it from the storm sewer. The volume of material is decreasing indicating that this is not an ongoing event.”