Ohio River oil spill cleanup may stretch into third day

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 20, 2014 1:12 PM

(Reuters) - The cleanup of a 5,000-gallon fuel oil spill from a Duke Energy Corp power plant into the Ohio River could stretch into Thursday, Duke said on Wednesday, as the U.S. Coast Guard reopened a 15-mile section of the river to limited traffic.

The Coast Guard closed a stretch of the river between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Dayton, Kentucky, on Tuesday after late Monday's spill. The incident occurred during what Duke called a "routine transfer of fuel oil" at the company's 60-year-old W.C. Beckjord Station power plant, 20 miles east of Cincinnati.

Cleanup operations have continued since, with the use of containment booms, skimmers and vacuums to recover the spilled oil. "Significant amounts" of the fuel have been collected so far, Duke said in a statement.

"The U.S. EPA indicates that recovery of oil will continue through today, possibly tomorrow," Duke said.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has reopened the river to some traffic, though restrictions will continue as the cleanup continues, it said on Wednesday. It did not give a timeline.

"Vessels can transit as long as they call the Coast Guard command center to get permission first," said Lieutenant Kate Cameron of the U.S. Coast Guard.

A spokeswoman for the Greater Cincinnati Water Works said on Wednesday that drinking water intakes from the river were reopened late on Tuesday after testing throughout the day, and that there was no impact to drinking water.

A Duke spokeswoman said that so far there had not been any observed impact on wildlife.

(Reporting by Edward McAllister in New York and Christine Stebbins in Chicago; editing by James Dalgleish and Matthew Lewis)