Failed Device Led to OH River Oil Spill

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 @ 03:03 PM gHale

A failed sump pump at a steel mill led to an oil spill on the Black River in Lorain, OH, Tuesday morning.

The Coast Guard got the call about an oil sheen due to a “petroleum product” released into the river about 10 a.m., according to a news release from the Coast Guard.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), in addition to the Lorain Fire Department, also responded to the spill.

“Ohio EPA received a report this morning of oil discharging to the Black River,” Dina Pierce with the Ohio EPA said. “They said it was probably coming from a steel company in Lorain.”

The Coast Guard said the spill originated at Republic Steel after a sump pump at the manufacturing facility “failed and released the product into a creek connected to the Black River.”

The total amount released is estimated at 20 gallons of mixed petroleum products, which includes hydraulic and waste oils, the Coast Guard said.

Lorain Fire arrived on the scene first and installed booms to prevent the spill from spreading farther in the water, Pierce said. The Coast Guard then began monitoring the river, looking for any oil sheen.

Pierce said the sheen reached a few hundred yards, at most.

A contractor has been hired by Republic Steel to begin clean-up operations, the Coast Guard said.

Pierce said the booms will keep the oil pooled in one area to help with the cleanup.

“Oil and gas float on top of water because they’re lighter than water,” she said. “The booms are designed to sit on top and absorb the material. They also skim the top of the water and keep the material from moving farther out.”

There were no drinking water intakes in the affected area, Pierce said. She also said crews found no affected wildlife.

“One of the things we look for is fish kills, oiled ducks and those kinds of things,” Pierce said. “We haven’t seen any impacted wildlife.”

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