WILMINGTON — Tests performed on well water in the vicinity of this month’s R+L diesel fuel spill indicate no diesel in samples from three wells, with results from a fourth well to come.
There are about a dozen private wells located within the corridor of the land in question, but the initial assessment by Ohio and U.S. EPA staff and Clinton County Environmental Health Director Matt Johannes was that there was very low probability there was going to be any kind of contamination of well water, Johannes reported this week at the Clinton County Board of Health regular monthly meeting.
It’s been more than three weeks since the spill of an estimated 23,000 gallons of diesel fuel, originating from R+L Carriers property at 600 Gillam Road, Liberty Township, in northern Clinton County. On Monday Johannes said while the initial assessment was of a very low probability of well water contamination, “going forward the probability is even lower.”
Johannes said the local health district’s basic involvement in the spill response has to do with the private wells in the area. They decided to do representative sampling, utilizing a diesel range organic test that examines water “for a multitude of diesel organics,” he said.
They took samples of water from four wells: a well at a rental house nearest the spill source, and one well each on North Curry, Gurneyville, and Center Roads.
Most homes in the area do not have private wells, but instead are served by Western Water, a water utility company, said the county’s environmental health director.
Another favorable factor when it comes to the potential for contaminated well water, he said, is that the area has a limestone aquifer with lots of heavy clay above it. Accordingly, the aquifer could be called a confined aquifer.
Confined aquifers have a layer of impenetrable rock or clay above them, while unconfined aquifers lie below a permeable layer of soil, states the National Geographic Society.
The reason why the results have not been received yet from the fourth water sample is that the water was collected at a later date than the other samples, said Johannes.
At a March 8 news conference, a U.S. EPA official said the diesel fuel escaped from an R+L 1-million gallon above-ground tank after workers failed to secure some bolts after cleaning and then refilling the tank.
The majority of the estimated 23,000 gallons of runaway diesel fuel stayed on the R+L site, according to Johannes.
During his report to the Board of Health, Johannes said the spill was discovered on Saturday, March 5, but “probably took place on the 3rd or 4th.”
He also said the cleanup operation probably would have gone quicker if it were not for “a pretty good rain event that happened Sunday night and Monday morning [March 6-7].”
If it weren’t for that rain, the spill’s resulting sheen would not have reached the Warren County town of Morrow on the Little Miami River, Johannes also said.
The above-ground fuel storage tank is reportedly about a quarter-mile from Dutch Creek, and Dutch Creek flows to Todd’s Fork, which goes into the Little Miami River.
At the meeting, Clinton County Health District Public Nursing Director Monica Wood, RN, reported on a steep decline in local COVID cases that has followed a surge caused by the variant named omicron.
In January there were 2,463 new cases of COVID reported in Clinton County; in February there were 394 new cases, and for the month of March up to March 28, there were 53 new cases.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.