Cleanup crews are working to mop up 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the Ohio River after a spill 20 miles from Cincinnati on Monday. According to WKRC, the spill occured in Duke Energy’s Beckjord plant shortly before noon. Officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are still assessing how the spill will affect local fish and wildlife, but say that water coming from the river should still be safe to drink. This is because water intake valves are below the surface, where the oil is currently floating. Officials are now concerned about limiting ship traffic, which can otherwise stir up the oil.
“This one is of major concern because of where it happened,” Peter Tennant, director of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “Any time something happens upstream from a water intake, it is of major concern. You don’t want to take chances with people’s health.”
Biologists say that as long as the fuel stays on the surface, it should not have a catastrophic effect on fish either—but that does not mean that fish will be completely unaffected.
“We’re fortunate,” Christopher Lorentz, a researcher at Thomas More College, told WCPO.
Lorentz praises the fast deployment of EPA, DNR, and other agencies to the area, but warns that the spill could have long-lasting consequences for aquatic life. That did not stop local angler Chris Martin from fishing on Tuesday, but Martin did agree that the spill may mean worse fishing in general.
“Just like any oil spill you’re going to hurt animals and the ecosystem, be it fish or birds,” Martin said.
Oil containment booms are being used to isolate the oil, which floated as far as 12 miles from the Beckjord plant before cleaning crews arrived. Investigators still do not know what caused the spill to occur, but believe that it may have been a result of human error. Duke Energy spokespeople stated that the company has accepted full responsibility for the spill, and are moving ahead with cleanup efforts.
You can see video taken of the oil slick below: