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Policy: Environment & Energy

Pipeline leaks thousands of gallons of oil in Ohio

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Photo - Officials prepare clean-up materials at the scene of a leak from a crude oil pipeline on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Colerain Township, Ohio. A Colerain Township fire official said the leak has been contained and that there is no immediate danger to the public. Capt. Steve Conn told The Cincinnati Enquirer oil leaked into a creek and collected in a marshy wetland, and it wasn't clear whether it reached ponds and the Great Miami River. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gary Landers)  MANDATORY CREDIT;  NO SALES
Officials prepare clean-up materials at the scene of a leak from a crude oil pipeline on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Colerain Township, Ohio. A Colerain Township fire official said the leak has been contained and that there is no immediate danger to the public. Capt. Steve Conn told The Cincinnati Enquirer oil leaked into a creek and collected in a marshy wetland, and it wasn't clear whether it reached ponds and the Great Miami River. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gary Landers) MANDATORY CREDIT; NO SALES
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CINCINNATI (AP) — Environmental authorities and cleanup workers raced Tuesday to clean up oil in a southwest Ohio nature preserve where thousands of gallons leaked from an interstate pipeline.

Crews were vacuuming oil from a wetlands area, and other work was underway on barriers to ensure the oil didn't spread. Authorities said the oil pipeline was shut off. There were no immediate reports of injured animals, and water utility officials said there was no threat to the public water supply.

An Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman said more people were arriving at the scene to deal with the cleanup and investigation. An environmental cleanup contractor was called in for the effort with the U.S. EPA, state agencies, and local authorities west of Cincinnati.

"There are a lot of folks who are trying to everything done that needs to be done," spokeswoman Heather Lauer said. "They're assessing, and trying to get rid of the oil that is already out."

Officials said the oil had been contained, but workers were building barriers to make sure potential rainfall didn't spread the oil, Lauer said. She also said there was work being done to make an access road for heavy equipment.

Officials estimate that 240 barrels leaked, the equivalent of about 10,000 gallons. The oil ran into an intermittent steam nearly a mile long and into an acre-sized marshy area.

The 374-acre preserve is part of the Great Parks of Hamilton County system. Described by the parks department as an area of rugged hills with wildflowers and woods, the preserve also hosts native animals from crayfish to deer. Parks spokeswoman Jennifer Sivak said the preserve was closed Tuesday to the public while the cleanup continued.

Officials said they would have a better estimate of how long and how costly the cleanup would be after Tuesday, with work continuing during the night.

The 20-inch diameter pipeline is part of the Mid-Valley Pipeline Co. pipeline running nearly 1,000 miles from Texas to Michigan. It is primarily owned by Sunoco Logistics Partners.

A Sunoco Logistics spokesman, Jeff Shields, said the cause of the leak in a wooded ravine was under investigation. He said crews confirmed the release at about 1 a.m. and the pipeline was shut down immediately on either side of the leak area.

He said the company doesn't provide product volumes, and was still evaluating the impact of the leak and pipeline shutoff.

The leak was near the Great Miami River, but Greater Cincinnati Water Works spokeswoman Michele Ralston said the spill was downstream from its water sources "and will not impact our water supply."

Colerain Township Fire Capt. Steve Conn told The Cincinnati Enquirer that residents near the preserve said they had smelled petroleum for days. Conn said it wasn't known how long the pipeline had been leaking.

Ron and Sharon Worsley, who live near the nature preserve, told The Enquirer they had smelled oil but thought it was from the diesel he uses in his tractor. They weren't feeling worried Tuesday.

"When I am around the stuff, I am less sensitive to it," Worsley said. "I wouldn't want to be swimming in it, but these things happen."

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Contact the reporter at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

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