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Barge accident causes 8,000 gallon chemical spill into the Ohio River

Mar 1, 2007 | A barge accident on the Ohio River causes quite a scare in Illinois and Kentucky. The coast guard tells us 8,000 gallons of a hazardous chemical, called cumene leaked into the water.

Not enough to be a danger, but a mess that had to be cleaned up none-the-less. You could call it pure luck; a barge carrying cumene got stuck on a lock near Brookport Illinois and spilled some chemicals into the Ohio River.

Ironically, hundreds of local, state and federal leaders were less than 20 minutes away practicing for an event just like this. "We're real fortunate we had some outstanding local state as well as federal agencies on the scene for an exercise" Captain Denise Matthews tells me this barge got stuck Tuesday evening on Lock and Dam 52.

Leaders did not find out until Wednesday morning they had a hazardous problem on their hands. Chemists determined a total of 8,000 gallons of cumene leaked out. "Right now it appears the leaking came to a stop because of water pressure" said Matthews.

Cumene is a component used in paint thinner. The chemical gives off a fallow stench and folks in area got a good whiff earlier in the day.

Leaders did close down Interstate 24 to test the air quality from the bridge to make sure it's ok to breathe "we're still conducting air monitoring to ensure the public safety and result are indicating levels where you can smell it, which is about 50 times lower than what can hurt you so that's good news" said Matthews. She adds its good news because the next step is to load the cumene onto another barge and re-open the Ohio River to boat traffic.

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