Open in App
TMJ4 News

New Berlin oil spill: City expects several weeks to cleanup hundreds of gallons

By Mariam Mackar, Elaine Rojas-Castillo, Bruce Harrison,


The city of New Berlin held a special meeting Thursday about a recent oil spill that happened in a local stormwater pond.

During the meeting, New Berlin Common Council discussed the city's response to the oil spill and the next steps that need to be taken.

Jim Burns, the city's Emergency Management manager, said that approximately 1,200 gallons of oil/water mix were removed from the most contaminated areas of the pond on Thursday alone. Officials say the oil spilled from Mooreland Auto Repair traveled the length of nearly six football fields, underground, and made its way into retention ponds.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is now taking control of cleanup and restoration efforts. The emergency order is expected to last for several more weeks.

VIDEO | Drone scours oil-drenched landscape

Drone video: Oil spill in New Berlin

On Tuesday, the mayor declared a state of emergency within the city limits due to what they called an environmental hazard. The impacted area near the post office on South Moorland Road was also blocked off to allow crews to create a safe passageway for larger cleanup equipment to do its job quickly.

The spill happened a week ago, on March 16, but it wasn't reported until Sunday afternoon. While the city says it's not sure how much oil was spilled and how much entered the stormwater system, it says it does know who is responsible and is working to resolve the issue.

It appears the source of the oil was a local auto repair shop. Moorland Auto Repair issued the following statement: "Moorland Auto Repair is working closely with local authorities, the DNR, and containment crews to remediate the impact of the accidental oil spill as quickly as possible. We apologize to the New Berlin community for the harm caused by this unfortunate incident."


People who live near the spill say they're concerned about the potential impact. The City of New Berlin has said there are no known risks to people, but some want more assurances.

Sandra Nowak's yard butts up to a city retention pond where there's oil visible on the surface of the water.

"I'm concerned that this water is seeping through the soil. How will it affect my gardening, my shrubs, my yard?" said Nowak. "I'm hoping they're doing a good job and like some of them said, that it will be cleaned up soon."


Nowak says she is still wondering how this will affect the environment and her family.

"This pond has herons, geese, ducks. I see them every day. I haven't seen them since Sunday," she shared. "Would I even dare have my 19-month-old granddaughter here and do an Easter egg hunt? I don't think so."

When asked how to describe the smell, Nowak said, "It burns to the bottom of your lungs. I did hang laundry outside on Monday, only to have the sheets come in stinking of petroleum."

The DNR hasn't determined if the state will take action against the auto shop responsible.

New Berlin oil spill in stormwater pond, city says no known risks to residents

Madison Goldbeck | March 20, 2023

The City of New Berlin says there are no known risks to residents following an oil spill in a stormwater pond.

According to the city, reports of the smell and presence of oil in the stormwater pond behind the Post Office began on Sunday. The New Berlin Police, Fire, and Emergency Management Departments responded and deployed booms and matting to contain the spill.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was notified and responded onsite to discuss the cleanup plan. DNR said the spill is now contained, and at this time, the state has not made a determination on whether it will take any enforcement actions against the responsible party.

City of New Berlin

The spill occurred Thursday, March 16, but the incident was not reported until Sunday afternoon when the city received the 911 call.

The city says it does not know how much oil was spilled and how much entered the stormwater system. However, the source of the spill has been identified.

"It was determined that the oil entered the stormwater system and flowed eastward entering into the creek behind the homes along Mark Drive and then into the City’s storm water pond SP-2," the City of New Berlin shared online Monday evening. "City agencies are coordinating with the DNR and the identified business and property owners responsible for the spill in order to continue the efforts the city initiated yesterday afternoon. Officials are actively monitoring the situation to ensure public safety."

City of New Berlin

The city said nearby residents near the area will notice a heavy presence of clean-up specialists with equipment. They will be working on containment and cleanup efforts for the next several weeks.

People and pets should not enter the areas that have been barricaded off.

"The City asks that both people and pets not enter those areas or the shoreline along the western retention pond and the creek that feeds into it for everyone’s safety," the city said. "There is currently no known risks to residents and no cause for alarm but, again, please stay away from the aforementioned areas."

The city says any public comment needs to be communicated to the city via email at and those will be forwarded to the Mayor and City Council.

It’s about time to watch on your time. Stream local news and weather 24/7 by searching for “TMJ4” on your device.

Available for download on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and more.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip

Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment
Most Popular newsMost Popular

Comments / 0