LIBERTY TWP., Clinton County — Environmental remediation work continued Monday night and thousands of animals from ducks to fish and crayfish are reported dead in and along Dutch Creek after a fuel spill Saturday afternoon.
The spill was first reported Saturday afternoon to the Wilmington Fire Department. Investigation by Port William-Liberty Township Joint Fire District identified the release at 600 Gillam Road, according to the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
The source of the release was identified — a large fuel storage tank on R+L Carriers’ property — and quickly shut down, the EMA confirmed.
A unified command was established between the U.S. EPA, Ohio EPA, Port William-Liberty Township Joint Fire District and Clinton County.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife is among those investigating the spill after being called in at about 7 p.m. Saturday.
Also on scene Monday were the “U. S. EPA, Ohio EPA, U.S. Coast Guard personnel, and numerous contractors all who have worked endlessly over the last two-and-a-half days to establish containment,” according to a Clinton County EMA spokesperson.
“The biggest issue that has slowed the cleanup has been the weather. Two rain storms have played a role in slowing the response. This is why several contractors are working at a feverish pace.”
The operation has been taking place around the clock.
An Ohio EPA spokesperson referred questions about the cleanup and the environmental impact to the Clinton County EMA.
“More than 2,000 fish, frogs, and crayfish were killed” by the spill, an ODNR spokesperson told the News Journal.
Erica Miller of Erica Miller Wildlife Rehab in the Dayton area posted photos on her Facebook page of an injured and fuel-soaked duck that she treated.
She added that there were also “dead muskrats, ducks and fish” as well as beaver dams affected and “so many suffering that haven’t been found yet. There are pump trucks on the scene and ODNR have been searching for all wildlife in the area.”
The News Journal contacted R+L Carriers for additional information and comment mid-afternoon Monday, leaving a voicemail in Media Relations that was not returned Monday.
A stretch of Gurneyville Road was closed after the spill.
Wells and water systems
“Diesel is a lighter product that floats on water and is contained to the waterway. The likelihood of it making its way into area wells is low,” said Matt Johannes of the Clinton County Health District. “The majority of the product is believed to be contained on the property and site of the release.”
No public water systems have been impacted, the Clinton County EMA added.
The EMA also stated, “Special thanks to Clinton County Engineer’s Office and Highway Department for helping to secure the road and bridge area to allow teams to construct several under-flow dams and enable vacuum collection of diesel fuel on the surface of Dutch Creek.”
Adding to the area’s woes was a power outage in the area, reportedly due to a tree falling into power lines during the storms early Monday morning.
As of early afternoon Monday, 1,215 Clinton County homes and businesses were without power — all but four of those in the Wilmington area, according to AES Ohio’s outage map.
By 3 p.m. that figure was at 197, and at 15 by 4:30 p.m.