Duke Energy Oil Spill Releases Upwards of 5,000 Gallons of Diesel Fuel into Ohio River

Investigations are ongoing into an Ohio River oil spill that originated at a Duke Energy Power Plant in New Richmond. The spill caused a temporary closing of Cincinnati’s water intakes, which have since been reopened, and water officials say that the oil has passed beyond Cincinnati. The plume from the spill was approximately five miles long, according to Cincinnati’s mayor, John Cranley.

Duke Energy first reported the spill on the night of August 18. At that point, the company indicated that between 5,000 and 8,000 gallons of fuel were accidentally discharged into the river during a routine transfer maneuver. City officials, the U.S. Coast Guard, and environmental agencies were contacted.

“We have cleanup crews on site that are identifying the appropriate actions that will be needed to remediate,” said Duke’s VP of gas operations, Chuck Whitlock. Three stations of cleanup crews sucking oil off the top of the water are set up between the plant and Coney Island.

At time of publishing, the Coast Guard has partially closed the Ohio River, and a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard is asking that any water crafts passing through the affected waterway first contact the Coast Guard Command Center for permission. Boats can negatively impact cleanup efforts, as they move oil from the water’s surface — where it can more easily be cleaned — to water intakes for the cities, which sit beneath the surface.

Duke Energy says that the problem was an open valve that led to the failure of the secondary containment for the transferred diesel fuel. This caused the fuel to run down the hill and into the Ohio River instead for a period of about 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, rivers and ground environments throughout the Americas are no stranger to oil and chemical spills. Just this past July, Enerplus Corporation, operating out of Buck Creek, Alberta, said that a failure in a pump jack led to a 275 gallon spill of crude oil. Since this spill was relatively minor, though, Enerplus was able to clean the area using vacuum trucks. Enerplus Corporation is one of the oldest and largest independent oil and gas producers in Canada.

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