Crews begin work to prevent years of diesel fuel leaks into Rocky River

(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)

Diesel fuel has been leaking into the Rocky River for years from underground storage tanks at Fairview Hospital. Work is now being done to correct the problem.

A Metroparks visitor noticed in May there were long containment booms near a culvert that runs from the hospital, down a hill and into the river.

It turned out that they were to contain the fuel leaks. But EPA records show the booms weren't always doing their job. They failed tightness tests and were not tied off properly at various times, allowing diesel to flow into the river, fouling the water.

A review of EPA records shows the problem began in November 2012, when an oil sheen was found on the river. The spilled diesel was cleaned up and the EPA began to monitor the situation.

Fast forward a year to December of 2013 there was a 100-gallon leak. A cleanup pumping system was put into place. In April 2014, there was another leak. The booms were put into the river and the pumping system was restarted. In September 2015, the EPA investigated yet another leak of diesel.

Hanna Lee reported the latest spill to the EPA after he noticed it on the river .

"When we were kayaking up to it, about 30 yards up to it, you could smell just oil and then a good probably two miles down the river you could still see it in the water, glistening off the top. There's no wildlife in the water, it was really kind of weird and eerie to watch at the same time," Lee said.

Now we've learned something permanent is being done. Construction crews are busy behind the hospital installing a new tank. The hospital and EPA say the job involves removing two 10,000 gallon tanks and replacing them with one 30,000 gallon storage tank.

The hospital issued a statement, underscoring the steps being taken, which include a double-walled liner system which is being integrated into the design to produce a third containment barrier as well as a new monitoring system.  The leaks are infrequent but are still leaks. A recent Metropark visitor commented, "I've never seen oil or diesel or anything on top of the water."

The work now creates a system that exceeds requirements of BUSTR, Ohio's Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations. The job is set for completion by the end of the year, which was welcome news to park visitors.

They're digging up the tanks and putting in new tanks.

"As long as they're working and not spilling that's fantastic," Lee said.

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