PIQUA — A possible hazardous material spill caused concern in Piqua on Wednesday.
A caller to Miami County Dispatch reported “diesel fuel” in the Great Miami River around 2:30 p.m.
The Piqua Fire Department sent an engine to investigate the report. After a short search, firefighters observed an oily sheen on the water along the west bank of the river, just above the dam.
Initially, the oily substance was a narrow band but as firefighters began their search for a source of the substance, the oil slick grew to a band around 10-15 feet wide as it moved downriver.
A Piqua Fire Department boat was put into the water to assist in the search for the source. Miami County Hazmat and the Ohio EPA were also notified to respond.
A command post was set up at the old Piqua Power building on South Main Street and while workers searched the banks of the river from both the water and land, other team members began pulling storm drain covers as they searched for the product spilling into the river.
It was determined that the source of the liquid, believed to be diesel fuel, came from the City of Piqua Street Department Complex on South Main Street.
Incident commander for the scene, Piqua Firefighter Eric Wood, said that the substance was identified as a mix of oil and diesel fuel that leaked into a catch basin on the property. Wood said that it was believed that the catch basin had no outlet but it was found that “an old pipe that was not even on the map” allowed the contents to drain into the river.
Miami County EMA staff member and long-time member of the Miami County Hazmat team Jim Bowell said that even a small amount of diesel fuel can lead to a large “slick” on the water. While it is unknown just how much fuel entered the river, it is not believed to be a large amount.
In order to absorb what material might still be in the basin or pipes, crews place “hazmat booms” at strategic locations within the catch basin itself and in the river. The booms are designed to absorb petroleum products but allow water to pass through.
The last Piqua fire units cleared the scene around 6:30 p.m.
Miami County Hazmat crews, including members of the Troy and Tipp City Fire Department, the Ohio EPA, worked at the scene, along with Piqua firefighters.