Wellsville crews clean up fuel spill

WELLSVILLE — Fire crews and emergency workers spent the day Tuesday cleaning up several hundred gallons of diesel fuel that spilled overnight from a business at the Wellsville Intermodal Facility.

Wellsville police and fire crews were called out to the industrial park on Clark Avenue around 7:30 a.m. following a report of a spill of approximately 500 gallons of diesel fuel that came from Anchor Drilling Fluids, some of which spilled into the Ohio River.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the county Emergency Management Agency and the Coast Guard were notified of the spill, while other EPA officials, Weavertown Environmental and East Liverpool fire crews and HAZMAT team went to the scene to assess the damage and help with clean-up efforts.

According to Wellsville Fire Chief Barry Podwel, the diesel fuel leaked out of a storage tank owned by Anchor, and then went into the storm sewer system, a pondage area and then into the river.

“They had a diesel fuel truck come in and it unloaded and just overflowed the top of the tank,” Podwel said. “They put the sump pump on, and pumped it in assuming that it was just water, waste water or whatever …”

According to Podwel, crews received confirmation about the spillage when a crane operator who arrived shortly after sunrise noticed a sheen and made the call.

Podwel said crews from Weavertown arrived at the area and lowered containment booms to prevent the spillage from spreading and were able to contain all of the fuel to a half-mile area from the point of entry.

Podwel stated the spill was not expected to cause any problems for village residents or the water supply, which Podwel said comes from the Jim Kenney Marina, which is up river from the spill.

“There’s nothing really to worry about,” Podwel said. “Like I said, everything’s contained so there’s nothing going down river or anything. Nothing going back up, so everything’s contained right here. There’s no water problems to the village or anything.”

It was unclear how much damage was done to the land, but according to James Lee, a spokesman with the Ohio EPA, the spill was not expected to affect other nearby area water plants including Toronto, which normally draws its water from the river.

Lee, however, stated that due to scheduled maintenance, Toronto’s plant was not drawing water from the river at the time.

“The time of travel from the point of entry, that is where the contaminants entered the river, to Toronto water plant would take approximately 24 hours based on current river conditions,” Lee said. “The plant did not report seeing a sheen of any sort, and other downstream plants have been made aware of the situation and will monitor river conditions and will stop the intake of water, if needed.”