No danger from gas leak near old South Fairmount foundry, Cincinnati fire official says

CINCINNATI -- A fire official says there was no danger to the public after a road construction crew hit a gas line next to an old foundry full of toxic waste.

Duke Energy was called to the leak, near Beekman and Queen City avenues, shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday. Beekman was closed near Tremont Street.

Duke spokeswoman Sally Thelen said the line was repaired before noon.

The Cincinnati Fire Department said natural gas from the 4-inch line had quickly dissipated into the air.

Firefighters who investigated the adjacent Lunkenheimer Foundry building two years ago found 1,000 barrels, many of them labeled flammable or corrosive, sat abandoned beneath the building's leaking roof. 

The fire department called on the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, whose in-depth analysis of the site discovered toxic waste -- including arsenic and cadmium -- in dire need of cleanup. Oil from underground storage tanks in the facility had already overflowed into Mill Creek during periods of severe storming, according to an EPA-commissioned report by consulting company Tetra Tech Inc.

 

The entities responsible for leaving hazardous waste behind don't appear willing to foot the bill for cleanup. The EPA ordered the building's two most recent claimants -- Cincinnati Valve Company, which rented the structure, and Star-Let Corporation, which owned it -- to remove the toxic materials by the end of the summer.

However, according to EPA on-site coordinator Steve Renninger, the owner of Star-Let left the United States years ago. A representative of the Cincinnati Valve Company claimed he could only answer questions through email, but the company had not responded to WCPO's inquiry by Friday afternoon.

The lack of response means the cleanup will start with taxpayer funding.

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