Ohio EPA to assess oil spill

NILES – Ohio Environment Protection Agency officials plan today to assess the damage caused by the oil that leaked into the Mahoning River last week.

Chris Abbruzzese, OEPA spokesman, said Sunday that it’s too soon to tell how much oil spilled into the river or how much the cleanup effort is costing.

“We’ll be looking at the three miles of river, the containment areas, and look for any residual pockets of oil,” he explained. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job at cleaning it up and containing it. We’ll see where everything’s at and go from there.”

Officials said oil from a malfunctioning water-oil separator at a Warren Township plant leaked into the river. Private crews have been working since Friday afternoon to clean it up. Abbruzzese said nothing else is being discharged into river at this point and officials believe the spill was “purely oil.”

The spill was reported to the Niles Fire Department about 1:30 p.m. Friday by someone on the bike path who noticed a sheen on the river, prompting multiple agencies to kick into action.

Trumbull County Emergency Management Agency and HazMat traced the leak to the ArcelorMittal plant off Main Avenue in Warren Township before OEPA officials arrived.

Warren Township fire Chief Ken Schick said Saturday that it wasn’t until after the source was found that a second leak was discovered. The secondary leak was found about 7 p.m. Friday and plugged before dark.

Abbruzzese said it’s also too soon to know whether anyone will be fined because of the spill.

Jason DeLuca of Trumbull County HazMat said officials will have more answers as they get into the “wrap-up phase” of the cleanup effort.

“We’ll go out there and after that have a better idea of where things stand,” he said Sunday. “At this point it’s really too early to tell. But everything seems to be running OK and going well with the cleanup.”

Multiple attempts over the weekend to reach someone at ArcelorMittal were not successful.