My name is Kim Ryba. I own a beautiful Horse Boarding Stable outside of St. Louis Missouri. I have been at this location for nearly forty years and have been blessed to have raised four sons in an environment rich with forests, farmland and steeped in pioneer history. I am further blessed to have my grandchildren visit most Sundays to ride their horses.
Years ago, we named the stable after a stone bridge constructed over a small stream situated between barns. Hence the name “Stone Bridge Stables”. A larger stream bisects my pasture land. This stream known as the “O’Day Branch Creek” flows into the adjoining wildlife preserve. Some years the O’Day Branch dries up during our Missouri droughts. However every winter impressive floods rage down the O’Day sometimes causing great damage.
Like many Americans, I have watched apprehensively as the checkerboard patterns of housing developments encroached on our rural way of life. Consequently I was “blindsided” by a 70 year old threat buried just upstream of my property.
In late August of 1994 during a summer drought, an antiquated pipeline began leaking at the point where it crossed the O’Day Branch. As much as 60,000 gallons of Aviation fuel poured into the O’day and through my horse pastures.
Desperately, I strung new fences to keep my horses away from the fuel spill and the hordes of frenzied pipeline repair workers who descended upon my property.
Because of the drought, the creek had shrunken into a series of deep pools that harbored fish & amphibians. Sadly the river of Aviation fuel immediately killed any fish that had sheltered in these pools. During the following days, I watched as frogs, snakes and even birds died. Worse still, my dog “Sam” eventually died from throat cancer after prolonged exposure to the petroleum contamination.
Furthermore, the pipeline leak also created a “toxic cloud” that enveloped areas far from the spill location. Oak and Spruce trees soon died from contact with this oily mist.
For the next ten years, I struggled bitterly with lawyers, state & federal bureaucracies and the Oil Company to have the petroleum contamination cleaned from the O’Day Branch.
Sadly, I learned the following: Conoco Pipeline Corporation is above the law in Missouri and perhaps the nation. State & Government organizations, including our elected Politicians are either scared of the oil Giant or beholden to them.
I recorded my horrendous struggle in a daily journal, which was then turned into the book “Web of Conspiracy, A journal of a Pipeline Leak”.