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article imageFuel oil spill closes 15-mile stretch of Ohio River

By Karen Graham     Aug 19, 2014 in Environment
Cincinnati - A fuel oil spill at Duke Energy’s W.C. Beckjord power station outside of Cincinnati, Ohio has closed a 15-mile stretch of the Ohio River to navigation today. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel oil were released.
Duke Energy released a statement shortly after the accidental spill, saying the spill took place at approximately 11:15 p.m. on Monday night. Sally Thelen, a spokesperson for Duke said the spill occurred at the Duke substation in New Richmond, around 20 miles southeast of Cincinnati.
The spill occurred during a routine transfer of fuel oil from a larger tank to a smaller one, and lasted about 15 minutes, according to Duke Energy. Coast Guard Lt. Katherine Cameron says the spill is considered medium-sized on a scale going from minor to major in scope.
Cameron also said a 15-mile section of the Ohio River has been closed to navigation so that a response and cleanup can take place. It is not known how long cleanup efforts will take or when that section of the river will be reopened. Duke Energy has assumed responsibility for the cleanup, and Coast Guard officials are saying a spill-response team has been contacted.
Chuck Whitlock, Duke Energy president of Midwest Commercial Generation and vice president of gas operations, issued a statement saying: “We notified state and local authorities of the incident and have been working with them throughout the overnight hours. We have cleanup crews on site that are identifying the appropriate actions that will be needed to remediate.”
The Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency (HCEMA) gave more information on the spill, saying it occurred when an extra containment unit failed to contain the fuel when it was released because of an open valve. HCEMA said the oil sheen could be seen for 1-2 miles down the river, and the diesel fuel odor was strong.
Tony Parrott, the head of Greater Cincinnati Water Works, said the department was notified of the spill just after midnight. Intake valves were closed for both northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. The valves will remain closed for as long as it takes for the crisis to pass.
According to the Duke Energy website, the New Richmond power plant is expected to be retired on January 1, 2015. It went into operation in June of 1952. It is considered a “nominal 862-megawatt” facility with six coal and-or steam units.
More about Fuel oil, ohio river, Power plant, duke energy spill, Drinking water
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