Friday, January 14, 2000

Fertilizer spill's estimate growing

Amount of liquid nitrogen doubles

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The size of Saturday's tank failure and subsequent fertilizer spill in Riverside was substantially bigger than first thought.

        On Thursday, Southside River Rail officials more than doubled the estimated amount of the liquid nitrogen solution that spilled when a holding tank burst Saturday afternoon on Southside Avenue along the Ohio River. The company also said the cause may have been a structure failure in the tank's welding.

        Wednesday afternoon, officials at the Louisville Water Co. began noticing traces of ammonia nitrate, likely from the Cincinnati spill, said spokeswoman Kelley Dearing Smith. The compound, measured at about one part per million, was relatively diluted by the river water, she added.

        The spill posed no threat to the drinking water, she said, and the department doubts residents will notice any difference.

        Local and regional rescue workers and environmental officials said Thursday they are still investigating the tank rupture. No official cause has been determined.

        The company said Thursday as much as 990,000 gallons of the fertilizer was in the tank when it failed, Southside spokeswoman Jody Mangeot said. About 108,000 gallons were eventually recovered, but 882,000 gallons of the solution were lost.

        Originally, officials estimated 360,000 to 379,500 gallons of the nitrogen solution had spilled.

        After reviewing inventory records, Southside officials determined the tank was holding considerably more fertilizer than first reported, Ms. Mangeot said.

        Despite the revised numbers, environmental officials said no adverse impact on the environment has been noticed.

        The spilled solution is not toxic.

        Cincinnati Fire Division District Chief Ed Dadosky said his division, as well as environmental and law enforcement agencies, continue to investigate the leak. He, along with officials at other agencies contacted Thursday, were not aware that Southside had increased its estimate of spilled solution.


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