Spill Near Cincinnati Dumps 5,000 Gallons of Oil Into Ohio River

A spill at a power plant near Cincinnati dumped thousands of gallons of oil into the Ohio River late Monday night, but Louisville Water Company officials say they don’t think it’ll pose a risk to Louisville’s water supply.

The spill at Duke Energy’s W.C. Beckjord Station spilled 5,000 gallons of fuel oil during a routine transfer. The Beckjord station, built in 1952, is an older power plant that burns both fuel oil and coal.

“We notified state and local authorities of the incident and have been working with them throughout the overnight hours,” said Chuck Whitlock, Duke Energy president of Midwest Commercial Generation and vice president of gas operations in a released statement. “We have cleanup crews on site that are identifying the appropriate actions that will be needed to remediate.”

Duke Energy said nearby water districts were notified, and the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that the Greater Cincinnati Water Works shut down its intake valves.

This is the second upriver spill this year that has the potential to travel through Louisville. In January, the chemical MCHM leaked out of a storage tank in Charleston, West Virginia, and the plume traveled down the Ohio River. At the time, the Louisville Water Company increased its water treatment, but didn’t deem it necessary to stop drawing water from the Ohio River.

Louisville Water Company spokeswoman Kelley Dearing Smith said she doesn’t anticipate any problems from the oil spill.

The company will increase regular upstream sampling over the next few days as the oil travels toward Louisville and “maybe go a little further upriver, maybe collect a few more sites,” she said.

“At this point we don’t see anything that’s causing us any alarm at all. The great thing about the Ohio River is it’s this gigantic water source, so you do have the movement factor, and you do have the advantage of distance in this case, as well.”

Dearing Smith said 5,000 gallons of oil is also a relatively small spill for the Ohio River, where about 75 billion gallons of water go by Louisville every day.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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