Barriers set to prevent oil-saturated soil from spreading after Colerain Twp. spill

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - Dozens of animals contaminated after oil leaked into a Colerain nature preserve continues to be cleaned.

About 60 salamanders, frogs and crayfish are still being taken care of.  Twenty-eight animals have died near the Oak Glen Nature Preserve where more than 20,000 gallons leaked from a pipeline.

Crews are now digging trenches and setting absorbent barriers to prevent oil-saturated soil from spreading.

Dravo Park, the emergency operations area of the cleanup, is open to the public once again.  The emergency recovery phase of the clean-up is now over, as a transition is now being made to the remediation and restoration phases. Those started on Wednesday.

"The Sunoco Logistics people along with their contractors will remain on scene working with Great Parks of Hamilton County to get things back to its natural habitat, and that can take quite an extensive period of time," said Capt. Steve Conn of the Colerain Fire Department.

Sunoco Logistics largely owns the pipeline. Jeff Shields, Communications Manager for the company, tells FOX19 they're committed for the long haul. For township officials, that's news they wanted to hear.

"We were satisfied as a board and as a township that they're committed towards remediating the issue and making sure our natural preservation areas are protected," said Dennis Deters, a Colerain Township trustee.

Sunoco Logistics officials have met with trustees laying out long-term plans for the affected areas. Shields says Sunoco Logistics will pay for repairs to land, roads and so on while the clean-up continues, as well as repairing any issues to Dravo Park.

Shields says they're also working with landowners to keep property impact minimal, and they're using brush trucks to clean the roads as they go along.

"They have assured the EPA that they're here for the long haul.  The U.S. EPA has said that they will be released from this area when everyone is satisfied, including the park district, that the job's been done correctly," said Bob Mason with Great Parks of Hamilton County.

Even though the remaining phases of clean-up can take months before they're finished, Sunoco Logistics says they're committed to restoring the nature preserve to its former state.

"They've gone above and beyond to make sure the residents are satisfied, that we're safe, that something like this is going to be prevented in the future, and that they're going to stay as long as it takes to clean it up," said Deters.

In a statement, Shields tells FOX19:

The emergency recovery phase of the response, which was conducted jointly by Sunoco Logistics, the U.S. EPA, Ohio EPA, Colerain Township Department of Public Safety, Great Parks of Hamilton County and the Hamilton County Health Department, ended Monday and is transitioning into a remediation/restoration phase, beginning today.

In this phase, Sunoco Logistics will coordinate with these agencies on a plan to restore the nature preserve to its former state. While various phases will last weeks or months, we plan to keep our "underflow dam" in place for three years. The underflow dam blocks the flow of the stream, allowing water to pass underneath, while any oil remains on the surface at the dam and can be recovered there. This dam has been a central part of our recovery efforts thus far and will continue to be.

Any residual oil on the ground, on rocks or vegetation will be addressed by continual flushing of the stream area and thermal treatment to remove the oil when possible. Instead of removing large amounts of soil, we will be planting vegetation that naturally breaks down hydrocarbons in the soil.

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