4-inch pipeline crack leaks oil in Ohio preserve

LISA CORNWELL Associated Press Published:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- A 4-inch crack in a pipeline caused more than 10,000 gallons of crude oil to leak into a suburban nature preserve, officials said Thursday.

The crack was found on the underside of the 20-inch diameter pipeline, which leaked the oil in the 374-acre Oak Glen Nature Preserve in Colerain Township, just north of Cincinnati, township fire department Capt. Steve Conn said.

The oil, discovered Monday night in a wooded ravine and wetlands, leaked into an intermittent stream and into an acre-sized marshy area, but no problems had been found with air quality or water wells in the area, Conn said.

Efforts were underway to protect salamanders from entering the marshy area, where they lay eggs during mating season, said Jennifer Sivak, a spokeswoman for the Great Parks of Hamilton County system that manages the preserve.

"This is their typical mating season, and they are coming out now," Sivak said Thursday. "We are putting down fences to redirect them to traps and relocating them to Miami Whitewater Forest."

Two dead crayfish had been found, and one live salamander covered with oil was cleaned and taken to a rehabilitation area, authorities said. The cleanup continued Thursday with workers vacuuming crude from the site, and about 3,800 gallons of mostly oil mixed with water had been recovered, Conn said.

Investigators from the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which regulates interstate pipelines, were on the scene, he said. The federal agency said the pipeline's operator is required to inspect the pipeline at least once every five years, with federal inspectors checking its records to ensure compliance.

The pipeline's primary owner, Sunoco Logistics Partners, had "met or exceeded all of the requirements," company spokesman Jeff Shields said.

The pipeline is part of the Mid-Valley Pipeline Co.'s system running nearly 1,000 miles from Texas to Michigan. Federal records show the leak is the 40th incident since 2006 along the pipeline.