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Monday, January 14th, 2013

Oil, rain create hazard

By Shelley Grieshop
ST. MARYS - A leak in a private oil field east of the city Friday left an overwhelming odor in the area and kept emergency crews busy all weekend.
No serious illnesses were reported. However, St. Marys Police dispatchers fielded several calls Friday night and Saturday from residents suffering headaches from a noxious smell.
The oil field, located near state Route 29 and Plattner Pike, is owned by Innex Energy of Plano, Texas. Company CEO Jeri Jay said his consultant is working with EMA officials.
Heavy rains on Sunday hampered clean-up efforts as crude oil from one of three reservoir tanks washed into nearby Carter Creek and the St. Marys River. Booms laid on the waterways for absorption eventually contained the spill after 28 hours, Auglaize County EMA Director Troy Anderson said.
"We worked through the night Friday, all day Saturday and until about 2 p.m. Sunday," he said. "The emergency response work is done; now we're starting the mitigation process to find out what happened."
Innex operates three injection (vertical) wells at the site; oil in each is pumped into reservoir tanks that hold 240 barrels - more than 10,000 gallons - of crude oil. The company reportedly transports the product to a refinery in Canton.
Anderson said he was alerted to the problem after St. Marys Fire Department received a call about 10:30 p.m. from a worker at Setex on McKinley Road.
"When I arrived and smelled the odor, I had no doubt what it was," he said. "I got out and saw crude oil on the ground. There was quite a bit."
Hazardous materials experts from Allied Environmental of Lima used booms and other equipment to remove the oil from the waterways. The surrounding ground was excavated to extract the oil from the soil, Anderson said.
The amount of crude oil that entered the creek and river was undetermined at press time today. Anderson said he is working to determine exactly how much oil leaked out of reservoir tank #2 and why it overflowed. The company's consultant is helping in the investigation, he added.
Anderson said he alerted Ohio EPA, the Division of Wildlife, the National Response Commission and other state agencies involved in environmental safety. All will be entitled to compensation for their time on the project, he said.
"It's going to be expensive," he said.
Anderson said it is too early in the investigation to estimate the cost of the oil leak, who is responsible for clean-up expenses and if a fine will be levied against the company.
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St. Marys native Joe Vires received the Bronze Star Medal on Dec. 6 in Afghanistan while finishing his third tour of duty. [More]
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