A diesel fuel spill on Erie Street traveled through the city sewer system and made its way into the Auglaize River where booms were placed near the Water Street Bridge with a second precautionary barrier placed near the Harrison Street Bridge.
Wapakoneta Fire Chief Kendall Krites directed firefighters and Wapakoneta Public Works Department personnel to place booms near the CSX railroad trestle, west of the Water Street Bridge, and a second set of booms east of the dam.
Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Troy Anderson responded and traced the diesel fuel to its origin through the storm sewer system to a concrete driveway construction site on Erie Street.
A state wildlife officer and a member of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also responded after the spill was reported at approximately 3 p.m. Monday.
“We had a report from somebody who was fishing on the river who identified something floating on the river so he tried to find the source,” Krites said, identifying the caller as Rich Hammond, of South Rauthland Street. “He contacted the EMA and he (Anderson) called us at the fire station and asked if we were aware of the situation and we were not so we deployed crews to the Water Street Bridge location and discovered a slick sheen on the surface of the water.
“We tried to catch the majority of it there, but to stay ahead of it and in the time frame of getting things set up we decided to go to the furthest point before it got over the dam because the dam would mix it,” the fire chief told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “There is a gentleman with the EPA and Troy Anderson with EMA who have been working to track it back to a source.”
Firefighters at the Water Street Bridge pointed to the sheen which covered the width of the Auglaize River under the bridge and described the smell as diesel fuel.
Anderson said he believes the diesel fuel came from a cement mixer which poured concrete for a garage floor at 416 Erie St. He did not know why the spill occurred.
“There definitely was a diesel spill and the response agents from EPA, wildlife, the fire department and myself we were able to track the source to this location,” Anderson said after having looked into a catch basin and pointing toward the residence. “The contractor, or the cement company, will be the party ultimately responsible.
“We are waiting for someone from the company to come on site at which time we will explain to them what the state is going to do, my part as emergency coordinator and the city of Wapakoneta will explain the cost of recovery so they can recoup their costs which includes supplies, overtime, equipment and so forth,” he said at 6 p.m. Monday.
Anderson also said the case is still under investigation.
Heavy rains helped wash the diesel fuel into the storm sewer system.
Early during the investigation, a possible source of the sheen, or the fuel, in the Auglaize River was runoff from a recent asphalt paving of East Auglaize Street, but Anderson dismissed that because of the amount of fuel in the river and they tracked it past the road reconstruction project.
Anderson said another worry is the effect on wildlife and people should keep pets and children away from the Auglaize River until the diesel fuel is removed.
Krites said his crews have not seen any dead fish or wildlife affected by the diesel fuel.
Krites said booms placed under the CSX railroad trestle should contain most of the diesel fuel until it can be removed by a hazardous material firm. The cost of the containment and clean-up will be the responsibility of the violator and not the city.
Others responding to the scene were members of the Auglaize County HAZ-MAT team and Cridersville Fire Department. The Cridersville Fire Department provided a boom to be placed near the Harrison Street Bridge.