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Company fined $90K for jet fuel spill at Lunken in 2019

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Posted at 4:59 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 20:22:13-04

CINCINNATI — Cin-Air LP pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and was given a $90,000 fine in U.S. District Court on Tuesday for causing and mishandling a jet fuel leak in March 2019 at Lunken Airport, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney David DeVillers.

The company has also been sentenced to one year of probation, during which it will be required to provide training for all employees on fuel spill prevention and cleanup.

According to the plea document and documents from the Ohio EPA, Cin-Air's fuel pump at the Macy's hangar at Lunken Airport was left running overnight after a mechanic refueled an airplane. A safety switch designed to keep something like this from happening had been zip-tied, causing the switch to stay permanently open.

When employees returned to work the next morning, an estimated 3,000 gallons of fuel had come out of the pump overnight, according to DeVillers' release. Emergency crews traced the spill to a cove of the Little Miami River, but no fuel was found in the main channels of the river.

According to the release, Cin-Air did not notify the National Response Center, and waited six hours before calling the Cincinnati Fire Department about the spill. Before calling the fire department, Cin-Air employees washed down the area of the spill with water, into a nearby storm sewer.

"The defendant's negligence resulted in a fuel spill that contaminated the Little Miami River, a tributary of the Ohio River," said Jennifer Lynn, special agent of EPA's criminal enforcement program in Ohio. "Today's sentencing demonstrates that EPA and our law enforcement partners are committed to enforcing laws designed to protect the health of our communities and our natural resources."

Cin-Air contributed around $220,000 of the nearly $440,000 cost of cleaning up the fuel spill, according to the release. It's estimated 1,700 gallons of fuel were recovered from the area.