A pipeline failure released more than 8,000 gallons of jet fuel into the St. Mary’s River in northeastern Indiana Sept. 7, and officials warned a cleanup could take several weeks to complete.
Bernie Beier, Homeland Security Director for Allen County, Indiana, told The Journal Gazette that an employee of Buckeye Pipe Line Company, which owns the busted pipeline, detected a pressure drop and immediately went to check on the line. The company then shut down the affected pipeline, but not before 8,190 gallons of jet fuel escaped into the river.
The spill prompted police officials in the city of Decatur to issue a public warning urging residents to stay away from the affected areas, WANE reported. Residents were also cautioned to refrain from smoking or using open flames near the river.
The pipeline will remain shut off until Buckeye finishes repairs and it is safe to operate again.
The company has dispatched its Emergency Response Team to control the spill and clean the affected areas, including laying down boom to contain the spilled fuel and obstruct its migration downriver. Cleanup workers were also vacuuming fuel from the surface of the river.
“So the goal is to get as much of … the fuel off the top of the river before the rains get heavier, the waters rise and the currents get faster,” Mr. Beier told The Journal Gazette. “When the water becomes more turbulent, anything off the top tends to get sucked down with logs, sticks and debris.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also monitoring air quality around the spill site and the water quality downstream from the broken pipeline.
EcoWatch observed that the spill was the second pipeline spill to impact an Indiana waterway within the past six months, noting that a Marathon Petroleum Corp. pipeline broke and released 42,000 gallons of diesel southwest of Indianapolis in March.
Officials haven’t said what could have caused the Buckeye pipeline to fail and the spill remains under investigation.