Police search for clues in oil spill

This pump and hose and a trail of oil were left behind by a truck that struck a guardrail at the entrance to the bridge over Beaver Creek on Grimm’s Bridge Road. (Photo courtesy of St. Clair Township Police Department)

CALCUTTA – Police in St. Clair Township are looking for a truck driver who lost not only a load of oil but the pump from the truck after hitting a guardrail near a bridge over Beaver Creek on Grimm’s Bridge Road.

Although when the truck hit the guardrail is not known, the spill and pump were discovered Wednesday afternoon by township road foreman Scott Barrett as he traveled across the bridge, according to Patrolman Jim Briggs.

It appears the truck may have come down the hill from Pennsylvania and tried to make the wide turn onto the bridge but struck the guardrail instead, Briggs reported.

The pump and hose were torn off the truck and left lying next to the guardrail, where an estimated 25 gallons or less of suspected home heating oil was found spilled, entering the creek at that point.

The truck continued across the bridge, with a trail of oil behind it, and on the other side a large puddle of the substance indicated to police the driver may have stopped to assess the damage before heading back up Grimm’s Bridge Road to Calcutta-Smith Ferry Road.

Judging by the trail of oil they followed, officers believe the truck continued to state Route 170, where it turned left into Calcutta, but at the Sheetz store the trail of oil disappeared and the truck’s destination was not known.

Briggs said he checked local body shops and the O.S. Hill truck dealership and repair shop but did not find a damaged truck.

Meanwhile, Calcutta firefighters placed drying material on the oil spills along the roadway and swept it up.

East Liverpool Fire Chief Bill Jones arrived on the scene to assess the spill and determine if the hazmat team needed to be dispatched.

He said perhaps two gallons or less of the substance were spilled into the creek, and the hazmat unit was not brought to the scene for cleanup.

City Service-Safety Director Brian Allen also came to the scene and said the spill was a concern if any of the product managed to head downstream into the Ohio River.

Allen noted the city’s water intake had been damaged by a barge in recent months and is awaiting repairs and, until then, the water supply is being taken from the river’s surface, where oil products would collect.

“We have to be careful to keep any hydrocarbons or petroleum from getting into the plant,” Allen said, adding that the plant can be shut down if such products are detected and he city has a 24-hour supply stored in tanks until the affected water should flow by the intake.

He said tests are being taken every half hour due to the spill as a precaution.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the county Emergency Management Agency were notified, according to Allen.

Briggs asked that anyone who has any information about the spill or the truck and its driver to call St. Clair Township Police at 330-386-3585.