Oily Water Turned Soil Gray!!!


Hi everyone,
A few months ago, my car had a major oil leak ( Rear Main Seal ), and when I started it up, oil basically POURED right out in A STREAM, and my car went through one quart of oil in like 5 minutes. There was a HUGE puddle of oil all over the driveway. I used kitty litter to try to soak it all up. and then tried to wash it away with some "Dawn Dish Soap".
Anyway, now everytime it rains, the driveway gets puddles of that "rainbow colored" oily water. When I try to wash it with the "Dawn Dish Soap", the white foamy bubbles from the Dish Soap turn all Black. So the bubbles all turn this foamy Black color, and the water underneath is all rainbow colored.
So the other day, what I noticed after the snow melted on the grassy area next to the driveway, was that there was an area about 3-4 feet long, and about 1 foot wide, where the grass has turned all Black, and the soil is now a GRAY color. The reason for this, is because the asphalt driveway is very old, and not perfectly flat, and so the water and melting snow runs down onto the grass and soil.
So does this mean that the soil is now contaminated with oil? Do I have to dig out all the grey-colored soil, and reseed the whole area? If so, how far down do I need to dig?
Instead of digging all the soil out, can I fix the soil, by just topdressing the gray soil with some compost or organic topsoil, and then reseed?
Because its not like the motor oil was dumped or spilled directly on the grass, but the oily residue in the driveway mixed in with rainwater and melting snow, and turned the grass Black, and the soil a greasy/oily grey color.
Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated!!!
P.S. Is there anyway to DRY OUT the oily residue in the driveway, so that when it rains, the puddles won't have that oily, rainbow color? Will scattering "rock salt" down on the area where the oil spill was, help to dry it out? Because doesn't rock salt dry stuff out?
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I doubt salt would work, and salt is not so swift for soil, either. Salt would further ionize water, likely lowering what little affinity water has for oil.
They make stuff for oil, go to an industrial supply house, or graingers.com. Sorb-All comes to mind. They might make a Sorb-All type product with a little embedded detergent, or, for a final cleaning, add a little detergent/water to the driveway before the last application of Sorball.
Does the gray soil smell funny? If so, it could be harboring an anaerobic bacteria, that machinists sometimes find in old uncirculated soluble oil. There's also an oil-eating bacteria, don't know if it's commercially available.
If you have to dig it up, I'd think 6" deep would be enough, but ahm no 'spert. The area is not that large to do, anyway. Topsoil over the whole lawn doesn't hurt either, can rejuvenate a lawn, so you might can do both at once.
Also, a "convex" driveway is not bad, but mebbe you should have "gutters" at the side, mebbe some "concave" asphalt, to catch and divert run-off. Always a good idea anyway.
--
EA




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Nix the salt idea.
To clean the oil off the driveway rather than dish soap use laundry detergent. Wet the stain area and then use a stiff brush and hose it well after.
As far as the oil residue on the lawn don't panic. there are natural bacteria in the soil that will eat the petroleum over time. If it does not green up after the weather warms up you can dig out a little bit and toss in some fresh dirt.
--

Roger Shoaf

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MICHELLE H. wrote:

Oil doesn't dry. You should have swept up the oil/kitty litter. You undid that effort by using detergent to wash the oil out of the kitty litter.
When you have some dry weather, put down some more kitty litter, mash it into the pavement with your foot and let it work for a few hours. Then sweep or shovel it up and dispose of it property.
You might have killed part of your lawn with oil. When it rains, the residual oil will probably float up and, perhaps, some will wash away with the rain water. If the top of the soil is real oily, you might gain by sprinkling down some litter, letting it soak and the remove the litter and dispose. You would have to do that when the ground is dry, or the litter will just soak up the moisture rather than the oil.
Don't use clumping kitty litter.
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Hi everyone,
Thanks for all the helpful responses so far, I really do appreciate it!! Someone asked me if I "SCRUBBED the dish soap into the oil spot". No, when I used the Dawn dish soap, I DIDN'T scrub it in. I just swept up all of the oil soaked kitty litter, and then put some Dawn dish soap over the oil spot, when it was raining.
Also, I DIDN'T "mash" the kitty litter in with my foot, as the previous poster suggested. I just poured the kitty litter over the puddle of oil, let it sit for a few hours, and then swept it up, and disposed of it in the trash. I will have to try "mashing it in with my foot" next time.
I am not sure if the kitty litter is what turned the soil Grey, because I used a bag of "Johnny Cat" kitty litter which is White in color.
But I will follow your suggestions and keep putting kitty litter there, and "mash it in with my foot", to try to dry the oil spot up, so that when it rains, there is no more "rainbow colored" water.
Hopefully I can just topdress the lawn with some compost or even organic topsoil, when the weather warms up ( its in the 40's in my area ), and reseed, and hopefully the grass will come back!?
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MICHELLE H. wrote:

piled deep on the grass, it might take up enough water to dry out the grass. I had a neighbor in our condo who did me the "favor" of putting USED kitty litter on my potted plants outdoors to "fertilize" them. Weird woman! Killed my plants.

Don't obsess if you see a tiny bit of oil on the water...it doesn't take much oil on the water to make a rainbow. I've seen it when I have planted plants near our parking lot - dig hole, fill with water for the plant and voila. It will probably take a very long time to be entirely gone. If the grass dies in the area where the oil ran off, you might want to dig up a few inches of the topsoil and replace it.

I misunderstood your first post - if you removed the k.l., then there isn't likely to be a huge amount of oil remaining in or on the ground.
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On Sun, 28 Feb 2010 16:05:14 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (MICHELLE H.) wrote:

The litter is clay (?), so it may have very well turned the soil grey.
Put a sample in a jar, cover with water, let it sit, and see what color the water turns.
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On Feb 28, 11:55am, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (MICHELLE H.) wrote:

First scrub hard some liquid or powder Tide of other washing powder into the surface wherever you think the oil residue is located. Then grind in some kitty litter and let it sit for a day. Then, when the temp is above freezing, wash the whole area down toward the street, use the hose to redirect any water that goes toward the grass to the middle of the driveway and then down to the curb/gutter.
I have had to do this a few times when visitors stayed overnight and parked their dripping vehicles in my driveway. You may have to repeat this a few times, The oily film can be caused by a very tiny amount of oil so don't be discouraged if you have to repeat. Instead of kitty litter, you can use some regular dirt from around your house if you have a high spot you want to level out.
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On Sun, 28 Feb 2010 18:37:40 -0800 (PST), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

Tide powder would me my first choice for the oily surface. I've used it for oil clean up around the home.
Pit Row at Daytona 500 track is oily from years of abuse..
DW - (Darrell Waltrip of NSACAR fame and driver) would do the same, but NASCAR officials won't allow it.
Cars are sliding past the pit box and need a good cleaning.
Disclaimer: DW drove with a Tide sponsor in the old days ..
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