DIESEL SPILL ALLEGEDLY USED TO MASK CHEMICAL DUMPING

DIESEL SPILL ALLEGEDLY USED TO MASK CHEMICAL DUMPING

One or more industries seem to have taken advantage of last month's major fuel spill and dumped their own chemicals into the Ohio River, chemicals that are more dangerous pollutants than the fuel that spilled, water quality experts say.

Peter Tennant, water quality program manager for the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission in Cincinnati, said water samples were taken along a 15- mile stretch between Wheeling and Moundsville, W.Va., the week of Jan. 10.An estimated 730,000 gallons of diesel oil poured from a ruptured Ashland Oil Inc. tank into the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh on Jan. 2, then flowed into the Ohio River. The fuel threatened drinking supplies for residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.

Traces of chloroform, methylene chloride and 1,1,1-trichloroethane were found in the samples, according to Mr. Tennant. All three are used as industrial solvents.

Chloroform and methylene chloride are cancer-causing substances and can accumulate in the bodies of fish and other marine life.

It's not unusual to see those chemicals in that part of the river occasionally, but never at that high a concentration, Mr. Tennant told the Pittsburgh Press for Sunday's editions. Offhand, I'd estimate those concentrations at about 10 times more than what we normally might see.

At the levels found, chloroform and methylene chloride significantly exceed the federal cancer risk level for rivers and streams, according to Mr. Tennant.

I think what we have is a good indication that a number of industries may have taken advantage of the spill to unload some of their own problems and unwanted material from settling ponds and tanks, said Edgar Berkey, executive vice president of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Hazardous Materials Research.

Mr. Berkey has reviewed reports and some water sample data and is

directing an independent study of the spill and its aftermath for Ashland.

What these misdirected and misguided industrial people dumped are chemicals and materials far more harmful, far more biologically active, than the diesel fuel, he told the newspaper. They dumped dirty solvents because getting rid of them properly is expensive.