The W..C. Beckjord Station. Image courtesy of Brett Ciccotelli/Ohio

North Carolina-based Duke Energy said Wednesday that a spill during a routine fuel oil transfer dumped approximately 5,000 gallons of fuel into the Ohio River.

The spill happened around 11:15 p.m. Monday night and was stopped by 11:30 p.m. that night, Duke said.

The spill occurred at the W..C. Beckjord Station about 20 miles east of Cincinnati.

Beckjord Station is a power plant with four combustion turbine generating units that burn #2 fuel oil.

Duke immediately notified local, state and environmental agencies as well as the Coast Guard.

Northern Kentucky Water District and Greater Cincinnati Water Works also were notified.

Duke Energy President of Midwest Commercial Generation and Vice President of Gas Operations Chuck Whitlock said the company has been working with the agencies “throughout the overnight hours.”

A Duke spokeswoman said that the company is investigating the cause of the accident.

“We have mechanisms for overflow valves. We are still investigating the exact cause, but what we do feel may have happened was one of the valves was opened, which caused them to overflow,” Duke spokeswoman Sally Thelen told the Cincinnati Inquirer.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said Tuesday that the region’s drinking water is safe.

About 15 miles of the Ohio River were briefly shutdown by the Coast Guard.

Cleanup crews have been coordinating with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and set up three stations between the W.C. Beckjord Station and Coney Island to remove oil from the water.

About 750 gallons were cleaned up by Tuesday afternoon.

Officials had originally estimated that 8,000 gallons had spilled. That number was revised down after daylight on Tuesday morning.

Beckjord Station is located in Clermont County, Ohio. Duke owns 100 percent of units 1 through 5. Units 1 through 4 have already been retired. Duke also owns 37.5 percent of unit 6.

The Bekcjord Station will be closed down by 2015 due to cost-prohibitive EPA regulations unrelated to the spill that are expected to go into effect next year.


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