Environment
1:26 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Water quality safe near oil pipeline break

Aerial view of oil spill on the pond. East Miami River road is at the bottom of the pic (which is on the west side of the pond.)
Credit EPA

Health officials say air and water quality tests around the site of an oil pipeline break in Colerain Township keep turning out well.

"We tested four wells on three properties (Thursday)," says Mike Samet with Hamilton County Public Health. "Results came back: no contamination from oil. We have two more samples out (Friday)... We're fully expecting them to be uncontaminated as well."

Approximately 10,000 gallons of crude oil leaked out of a burst underground pipeline in Oak Glen Nature Preserve. The leak was discovered Monday night.

Clean up efforts began Tuesday. The US Environmental Protection Agency's Steve Renniger says about 9,100 gallons of oil and contaminated water had been removed from the site as of Friday morning.

Sunoco Logistics has submitted a repair plan for the pipeline which was installed in 1950. A five inch crack has been officially identified as the source of the leak though no reason for the crack is being identified at this time.

The spill affects 1/2-1 mile of stream and a pond. The contamination has not spread to the nearby Great Miami River.

Great Parks of Hamilton County Stewardship Manager Bob Mason says one salamander was found coated in oil but it was cleaned up and appears to be doing well. Two other salamanders were intercepted before reaching the oil. He says a dead frog has been found but its death may not be related to the spill. No other wildlife have been found to be harmed so far.

Here's what WVXU reported Wednesday:

The cleanup continues at Oak Glen Nature Preserve where a pipeline leak dumped approximately 10,000 gallons of crude oil into a stream and wetland area.

Crews are vacuuming up oil and trying to figure out what caused the pipeline to burst. That investigation is ongoing with no answers so far.

Steve Renniger with the US Environmental Protection Agency says Wednesday morning's rain isn't affecting cleanup efforts.

"It's a little sloppy out there," says Renniger. "We do have our booms in place so it actually, in a way, helps bring the oil to our recovery points. We wouldn't want real heavy rains but this is not really impacting any operations at this point."

Renniger says the oil and any contaminated soil, water and other debris such as trees is being collected and hauled away for proper disposal.

"I would anticipate at least a week with this recovery phase," says Renniger. "After that we'll be looking at the remediation phase."

Hamilton County Public Health is monitoring air around the nature preserve and surrounding neighborhoods. The agency says levels are currently safe.  

Sunoco Logistics is funding the cleanup. Spokesman Jeff Shields says the company doesn't have a cost estimate at this point nor does it know what caused the pipe to burst.

Here's what WVXU reported Tuesday:

Crews are preparing to clean up thousands of gallons of oil that began leaking Monday evening from a pipeline running through a Colerain Township nature preserve.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency estimates 7,000-10,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Oak Glen Nature Preserve. Sunoco subsidiary Mid-Valley Pipeline Co. estimates the spill amounts to about 240 barrels.

The EPA says the spill was reported shortly after 8 p.m. Monday. Great Parks of Hamilton County spokeswoman Jennifer Sivak says the park district was notified around 9 p.m. Sivak says, "The extent of the impact to the nature preserve and the wildlife is unknown at this moment. The EPA is currently assessing the situation and determining a course of action."

Great Parks Stewardship Manager Bob Mason says, "In a way we’re fortunate it collected in this little pond or wetland because the next stop would have been the Great Miami River."

The pipeline has been shutdown on both sides of the leak and a contractor has been brought in to clean up the spill.

Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heather Lauer says, "The contractor is planning to vacuum the wetland and build a control structure to keep additional oil from entering the wetland. This is in part because rain is forecast. In addition, a temporary road needs to be built to the point of the pipeline break so that a crew can get in and make the repair."

Drinking water in the area remains safe according to the Greater Cincinnati Water Works. Spokeswoman Michele Ralston says, "The oil spill occurred down stream of our water sources and will not impact our water supply.”

The EPA says the spill affects a pond at the preserve "located within 500-ft of the Great Miami River." However, the agency adds, "no crude oil has been observed to have been released into the Great Miami River."

The Mid-Valley pipeline extends almost 1,000 miles from Texas to Michigan. A Sunoco spokesman tells the Associated Press the company will release a statement sometime Tuesday.

Great Parks of Hamilton County describes Oak Glen as "294 acres of rugged hills with a rich diversity of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers."

View more images here.

Here's a map of the pipeline:

Where is Oak Glen Nature Preserve?