A Monumental Cleanup of 75 Yr Old Acid Tar Lake

The Problem

A chemical manufacturer inherited a major problem in the form of a 15-acre asphalt and acid tar lake that was up to 60 feet deep. The material was placed onsite by a refinery that operated from 1908 to 1946. The owner had multiple concerns:

  • The local community had long hated the stench of the material.
  • When disturbed, the tar released an extremely foul odor, the source of which was unknown.
  • The owner was under pressure from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to clean up the site.
  • Several prior companies tried to resolve the problem but failed, each of whom rapidly experienced severe equipment damage.
  • The owner needed a cost-effective, permanent solution to process and safely remove the tar.

The Altiras Solution

Altiras performed several months of laboratory and field testing and assessment of the material, offered a proposal, and was then engaged to solve the problem. Our solution involved:

  • Extensive testing to determine the source & cause of the odor.
  • Identification of the exposure risks and dangers from the material.
  • Extensive testing to identify the cause of the rapid, severe equipment damage.
  • Developed detailed process to protect employees and minimize exposure and risks.
  • Developed process to stop damage to equipment.
  • Developed process to handle and neutralize over 30 million gallons of rainwater with pH <2 and sticky solids throughout.


Altiras developed processes to completely remove all odor, make the material safe for equipment, and we even developed the product into a tremendously stable road base with exceptional physical properties to withstand much greater traffic than standard DOT requirements. Upon completion of the removal process, the underlying ground was restored to its native state, with vegetation regrowing throughout the site.

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