Feds say oil spill sheen dissipating in Ohio River

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CINCINNATI (AP) — Most of a reddish-brown sheen created by thousands of gallons of fuel oil that spilled into the Ohio River from a power plant was dissipating as a cleanup estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a day continued Wednesday, federal officials said.

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are coordinating the response to the spill, which occurred at a Duke Energy power plant near Cincinnati late Monday. About 1,000 gallons of oil and contaminated water had been recovered as of Wednesday, the EPA said. The federal agency also said it expects cleanup to cost about $250,000 a day, based on Duke's estimates. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company is responsible for cleaning up the estimated 3,000 to 5,000 gallons spilled.

The EPA has not said how long the cleanup is expected to take. Officials say the spill has had minimal impact on wildlife.

A Duke Energy spokeswoman said the spill, at a plant in New Richmond, about 20 miles southeast of Cincinnati, apparently resulted from human error. Officials believe a valve or lever was left open during a transfer of fuel oil from a larger tank to smaller ones, causing an overflow, Duke spokeswoman Sally Thelen said.

She said booms deployed at six bends of the river are being used to contain and help collect the oil, with skimmers and vacuum trucks removing it.

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Northern Kentucky Water District said Wednesday that they reopened their intakes from the river late Tuesday night after no contamination was found in water samples.

A 15-mile section of the river that was closed after the spill also reopened Tuesday, with some restrictions. Coast Guard Lt. Katherine Cameron said vessels traveling through the section of river must get Coast Guard clearance and maintain safe speeds.