Environment
3:45 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Fuel spill in Ohio River in Clermont County-portion of river closed

Update at 7:20 AM: Cincinnati's water intakes on the Ohio River are re-opened this morning following a diesel fuel spill yesterday at a Duke Energy Power Plant in New Richmond.  Water officials say the spill has passed through the Cincinnati area.

Update at 5:40 PM:  The Coast Guard has partially reopened the Ohio River.  Spokeswoman Lt. Katherine Cameron says any water craft, commercial or pleasure craft that requires passage through the affected waterway area on the Ohio River, needs to contact the USCG Sector Command Center at 800-253-7465 for permission to transit the area.

Update 8/19/14 at 3:50 PM:  Cincinnati's water intakes on the Ohio River will remain closed for several more hours following a diesel fuel spill Monday night at Duke Energy's Beckjord Power Plant in New Richmond.  

The utility said about 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel spilled during a transfer and lasted 10 to 15 minutes before it was stopped.  

City officials closed the intakes at 12:50 a.m. as a precaution.  Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said the plume from the spill is about five miles long.

"So the back of the oil plume will be beyond the point at which it could even potentially enter our intake valve by 7 or 8 this evening," Cranley said.  "And our intake valve will be closed well beyond that."

The city water works has enough capacity to operate while the intakes are shut down.  

The plume did appear to be hugging the Ohio side of the river, and the city draws water from the Kentucky side. 

This is the second time this year the city has closed the intakes because of a river spill.

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UPDATE:  Greater Cincinnati Water Works says as a precautionary measure it immediately shut down its Ohio River intake valves to ensure water safety.  GCCW says it has adequate capacity to continue operating while the intakes are down.  The intakes will remain closed as long as possible to allow the spill to pass.   Officials believe the worst is already past.

"We had some very strong indications of the compound in the river early this morning, in the 6- 7 a.m. time frame," said GCWW Superintendent of Water Quality Jeff Swertfeger.  "Since then we're seeing less and less of it in the river.  Our monitoring is indicating the majority of it is past us."

Swertfeger notes the intakes will stay closed until all is clear.

In Clermont County, the Water Resources Department has shut down several wells in the Pierce-Union-Batavia fields that had the most potential to be affected by the spill.  Director of Utilities Lyle Bloom says it's a precautionary measure.  He does not expect the well field to be affected by the diesel spill.

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Duke Energy is reporting  a fuel oil spill into the Ohio River at 11:15 last night at the Bekjord Station in Clermont County.  In a release Duke says about 5,000 gallons were inadvertently discharged into the river. 

They notified local, state and environmental agencies.  Duke spokesman, Chuck Whitlock says clean up crews are on site trying to find out what will need to be done to clean up the spill.

Clermont County also issued a release (see below).  It says  the U. S. Coast Guard has closed a 15-mile section of the river and three public water intakes between the Duke Facility and Licking River Confluence.  Clean Harbors has deployed 3 boats to search for recoverable product. 

Here is the full release from Duke:

At about 11:15 p.m. Monday, during a routine transfer of fuel oil at the W..C. Beckjord Station, approximately 5,000 gallons of fuel was inadvertently discharged into the Ohio River.

The release was stopped by 11:30 p.m.

Local, state and environmental agencies, along with the Coast Guard were promptly notified. Northern Kentucky Water District and Greater Cincinnati Water Works also were notified to take appropriate action.

“We notified state and local authorities of the incident and have been working with them throughout the overnight hours,” said Chuck Whitlock, Duke Energy president of Midwest Commercial Generation and vice president of gas operations. “We have cleanup crews on site that are identifying the appropriate actions that will be needed to remediate.”

Beckjord Station is located in Clermont County, approximately 20 miles east of Cincinnati. Duke Energy owns 100 percent of units 1 through 5 (units 1 through 4 have already been retired), and 37.5 percent of unit 6. Dayton Power & Light owns 50 percent of unit 6 and American Electric Power owns 12.5 percent. The station also has four combustion turbine generating units which burn #2 fuel oil. The combustion turbine generating units are primarily used for generating electric during periods of high demand or emergency situations.

The station is dispatched into PJM. Duke Energy Ohio anticipates it will retire all six coal-fired units by Jan. 1, 2015.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at: www.duke-energy.com

Clermont County Release:

Duke Energy estimates that up to 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel was released from a tank overfill at the Beckjord Plant.   The secondary containment failed to contain the release due to an open valve.  The diesel fuel ran straight down the hill and entered the Ohio River. The On Scene Coordinator and U.S. Coast Guard surveyed the river by boat and detected a sheen and diesel odor 1 to 2 miles downstream of the Duke facility. Clean Harbors has deployed 3 boats to search for recoverable product.  U.S. Coast Guard reports that Ohio River is closed for 15-mile section (between river miles 453 and 468) and three public water intakes on Ohio River between the Duke Facility and Licking River confluence are shut down.  More to follow as situation develops