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Published: Wednesday, 10/19/2005

Sports Arena boiler source of oil leak


Cleanup crews worked throughout yesterday, vacuuming up a thick substance on the Maumee River that officials determined was heating oil from the nearby Toledo Sports Arena.

The U.S. Coast Guard estimated that about 550 gallons of oil leaked into the river before the boiler was shut down about 5 p.m. Monday. The amount of oil meant that nearly 2,000 gallons of oily water would have to be sucked out of the river, said Chief Jeff Hall, a Coast Guard spokesman.

The leak was contained to a half-mile portion of the river from the arena to just north of the I-280 Veterans' Glass City Skyway Bridge.

Several areas of the river's eastern shoreline will have to be cleaned up, said Dina Pierce, spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Cleanup efforts are "still going on," Ms. Pierce said. "We don't really know how long it will take."

Gary Wyse, vice president and general manager of the Sports Arena, said it was about 5 p.m. Monday when officials realized the substance was coming from within his facility. The source was a leak within a boiler system, he said.

Mr. Wyse said that the age of the building - it was built in 1947 - meant that there was no documentation where pipes originated and ended. He said that until Monday, arena officials believed that pipes from the boiler system drained into the sewers.

Mr. Wyse acknowledged that the arena will be responsible for the cost of the cleanup.

"I'm sure the bills will start rolling in," he said.

EPA, Coast Guard, and arena officials all declined to estimate the cost of the cleanup.

Mr. Wyse said the arena repaired the boiler system so that it would not leak into the river again.

The river, which was shut down Monday morning, was reopened about 2:30 p.m. yesterday

Chief Hall said the closure affected only a few commercial vessels.

No wildlife was affected by the leak, Ms. Pierce said.

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