Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016
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Fuel oil spill at power plant closes stretch of Ohio River

Area river traffic stopped amid cleanup

Ohio-River-Oil-Spill-2Cleanup-is-underway-nea

Cleanup is underway near the Beckjord Power Plant, in New Richmond, Ohio, after an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled into the Ohio River, closing about a 15-mile section of the waterway southeast of Cincinnati.

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CINCINNATI — An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled into the Ohio River, leading to shut offs of water intake valves for the Ohio and Kentucky sides of the waterway to protect water supplies, and a 15-mile section of the river was closed to allow cleanup.

The river reopened to traffic Tuesday evening, with some restrictions.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Katherine Cameron said river traffic in that section southeast of Cincinnati must get Coast Guard clearance and maintain a safe speed as the cleanup continues.

The spill from a Duke Energy power plant in New Richmond, about 20 miles southeast of Cincinnati, happened about 11:15 p.m. Monday, Duke spokesman Sally Thelen said.

She said the spill at the W.C. Beckjord Station occurred during a routine transfer of fuel oil from a larger tank to smaller ones and was stopped within about 15 minutes.

Lieutenant Cameron said the spill is considered medium-sized.

The spill was first reported as about 5,000 to 8,000 gallons, but she said authorities lowered the estimate to 4,000 to 5,000 gallons Tuesday evening.

The section was closed to all river traffic, including barges carrying commercial goods, when the spill was reported.

Local, state, and environmental agencies also were at the scene Tuesday, and the Coast Guard said Duke Energy Corp. in Charlotte has assumed responsibility for spill cleanup.

Ohio EPA spokesman Heidi Griesmer said the water quality alert system for the Ohio River was activated and all river drinking water intakes in Ohio were sealed.

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works closed water intakes about 12:50 a.m. and monitoring of water entering the system prior to shut-down showed no contamination, Ms. Griesmer said.

Water quality scientists from the Greater Cincinnati Water Works continued monitoring the river in conjunction with the Northern Kentucky Water District. Rocky Merz, a spokesman for the city of Cincinnati, said no threats to drinking water have been found.

Mr. Merz said a strong odor of oil reported along the river early Tuesday seemed to dissipate as the day progressed.

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