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Published: Tuesday, 2/24/2009

Sunoco to burn part of Wood County oil spill


CYGNET, Ohio A ruptured pipeline that resulted in one of the largest oil spills in Wood County history has been fixed and is back in service, according to its operator, Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics Partners LP.

Meanwhile, the multiagency cleanup coordinated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Ohio EPA incorporated a new strategy yesterday for streambanks along Rocky Ford Creek and the Portage River.

Rather than excavate all of the contaminated soil, authorities have designated limited portions of it to be burned in place.

Although crude oil in the soil will release some emissions, officials decided it was more practical to do that on a controlled basis in certain hard-to-reach areas. They say they believe that can be accomplished without putting too much pollution skyward, Dina Pierce, Ohio EPA spokesman, said.

Another reason for the burn is that officials believed excessive digging could cause the streams long-term damage. The burns will take place only in selected areas, she said. Crews also continued yesterday to recover as much additional crude oil as they could from streams and field tile drains.

The U.S. EPA reported that the spill was under control enough to remove 10 of the 15 emergency containment booms that had been deployed.

BJ Fischer, a Sunoco spokesman, said officials figure there is at least a couple of weeks left of cleanup.

The spill, which began Wednesday, came from Sunoco s Maumee Pipeline System, which carries about 142,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Lima, Ohio, to Samaria, Mich.

It was stopped Thursday morning after thousands of gallons had escaped into Rocky Ford Creek. The plume traveled for miles, migrating into the middle branch and main part of the Portage River. Snow, ice, high winds, and freezing temperatures complicated cleanup efforts.

The amount of crude lost hasn t been quantified, but an estimated 650 barrels had been recovered from soil and water as of noon Friday.

Each barrel holds about 42 gallons, meaning that the equivalent of 27,300 gallons had been recovered by then.

The cause of the rupture isn t expected to be known until results come back on laboratory tests being done on a section of pipeline that was removed. Results are expected the first or second week of March, Mr. Fischer said.

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