Mon 1 pm: Oil leak cleanup continues

NILES – Crews remain along the Mahoning River today looking for any remaining pockets of oil from Friday’s leak.

Ohio Environment Protection Agency officials said it appears between 400 and 500 gallons of oil made its way along 4 to 4 1/2 miles along the Mahoning River, beginning near the former RG Steel plant and moving downstream.

Also today, ArcelorMittal officials said they are taking last week’s oil leak into the Mahoning River “very seriously” and have been working cooperatively with the agencies involved to address the situation.

In a written statement they confirmed that the Warren Township company was notified on Friday “of an observed oil presence on the Mahoning River” and that “the company immediately conducted an inspection of all areas of the facility and identified and addressed the source of the release.”

OEPA spokesman Mike Settles said that because the “oil is light,” it spills and dissipates quickly. At this point he does not foresee that ArcelorMittal will face fines.

The spill was reported to the Niles Fire Department about 1:30 p.m. Friday by someone on the bike path who noticed a sheen on the river, prompting multiple agencies to kick into action. However, Settles said ArcelorMittal was already aware that waste water from a pond had overflowed and that the company had started that cleanup effort Friday.

“It could have been that the rain caused it to overflow and jump its banks,” Settles said.

He confirmed there were actually two separate problems the overflowing pond and a malfunctioning oil polishing system that contributed to oil being discharged.