"But this is the worst I've seen," Nolan said while standing on the banks of the river that runs right behind her house. "My brother called me up and told me to look outside at the river. We went down there, and as far as we could see, a thick layer of what looked like oil was coming down the river. It was wide. It almost stretched from side to side."
Nolan lives in a small community just outside of Evarts called River Ridge. Her husband, Brian Nolan, said their back yard has been a popular place for fishermen and swimmers from throughout the county.
"It's a nice little stretch of water," he said. "I've lived here 20 years and seen many people come here to fish and swim. I've even let them park in my yard, so I just hate to see something like this happen. Anytime you got something like oil in the river, you know that can't be a good thing."
Benny Johnson, who is with the Kentucky Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement, was called to the scene Wednesday. He walked the riverbank and eventually waded out midstream to get a better look at the black streaks. By the time he arrived, the streaks were much smaller.
He scooped up a small glob in his hand to smell.
"It's oil," he said.
Officials with the Kentucky Division of Water also responded. They agreed with Johnson. It was oil. The team later set out to determine the source.
"At first, I was scared because I didn't know what was coming down the river," Nolan said. "It concerns me because we live so close to the river, and you just don't know what kind of toxins it could be giving off. We also have well water, so we sure didn't like the looks of that black stuff coming down the river."
Finding out what the black muck was did not satisfy the Nolan family. It's come down the river before and was previously reported by Teresa Nolan, but now that it has happened again and was much worse this time, she's wanting to get some answers.
"It's cause for concern," she said. "I've got kids, and I don't know what kind of stuff is coming off of that. When we first came outside to get a better look, we saw two fish belly up in the water."
Johnson said all indications pointed to a more concentrated spill. He said he didn't think the oil flowed too far because there was no evidence on rocks located farther up the river. To him, it looked like someone changed the oil in their vehicle then dumped the old into the river near the Nolans' home.
"People do that all the time, it's just not noticed," he said. "This is the first time I've responded to a complaint like this, though, and I've worked this job for 19 years."
Neighbor Richard Anglian said he noticed the black streaks around the riverbend, a good distance from the Nolans' house.
"I was crossing a bridge that's located about a half mile up from their house when I saw a black streak," Anglian said. "It looked to be about 8 to 10 feet wide. I thought it looked like oil."
Johnson also said he didn't believe the spill was mine-related. The closest operating mine, according to him, was located three miles away in the community of Shields.
Brian Nolan noticed water marks left on boulders jutting out of the river bed. That looked peculiar to him. He thinks the water level rose then dropped considerably fast
"As dry as it is, and it 90-degree weather, those water marks just don't stay like that," he said. "Something's been dumped."
The cause of the oil leak continues to be under investigation by the Division of Water. Water samples were taken for further analysis.
"We just want to know where it's coming from," Brian Nolan said. "The neighbors are concerned."