Route 83 closed, jet fuel spill clean-up continues
BY STEVE METSCH email@example.com August 27, 2012 11:06AM
The Calumet Sag Channel is closed because jet fuel from a ruptured pipeline is draining into the waterway. The rupture occured about 3am Monday in the 8400 block of West Route 83 in Palos Park. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
It’s not unusual to find jet fuel in a
pipeline along a wooded area of
The Chicago area, especially the south suburbs, is crisscrossed with pipelines carrying petroleum products. That’s because of the proximity to refineries and airports.
Marty White, spokeswoman for Buckeye Partners, which operates the line that ruptured early Monday, said the line carries petroleum products, in this case jet fuel, from East Chicago, Ind., to sites such as Midway and O’Hare airports.
“This doesn’t mean there will be delays (for flights). Other carriers that serve the airports and market in general all carry inventory. At this point, we don’t see any disruptions,” White said.
The Southland is a regional transportation and energy hub, routing pipelines from the Gulf Coast and Canada to the rest of the United States.
West Shore Pipleline, based in Arlington Heights, has a 650-mile network of pipeline stretching from Hammond to Green Bay to Rockford to Madison, Wis., according to the company’s website.
The company as of Monday had not determined what caused the 12-inch steel pipeline to rupture.
“We’re still collecting data and it will be an ongoing investigation,” White said.
The cost of the cleanup and repair has not been determined yet, he said.
“Our primary concern is public safety and the environmental integrity of the area,” White said.
Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick
Updated: September 29, 2012 6:07AM
A stretch of Route 83 in Palos Park, and part of the nearby Calumet Sag Channel, will be closed until as late as Thursday, officials said, as crews work to clean up 42,000 gallons of jet fuel that spilled after a petroleum pipeline ruptured.
Officials are not sure what caused the pipeline to break early Monday, but the area could be closed to motorists and water traffic until Wednesday or Thursday due to cleanup efforts.
Safety is the biggest concern, said Lt. Leslie Downing of the Coast Guard’s marine safety unit in Chicago. That’s why a seven-mile stretch of the Cal-Sag, south from Harlem Avenue, was closed to traffic at noon Monday.
The closure allows cleanup crews the space they need, she said, and also prevents any stray sparks from boats igniting the jet fuel on the water.
All barge companies were notified about the closure, she said. Dozens of barges go up and down the canal every day, a source said.
Closing the waterway means some potential hardship for businesses that rely on the Cal-Sag to get their goods to and from market.
The stoppage of traffic on the canal has not yet hurt Lemont-based Illinois Marine Towing, manager Rick Barnes said. The company tows barges up and down the canal.
“I do know the traffic is stopped from going in and out of South Chicago. Possibly (those companies) will use trucks, but we’re not there yet,” Barnes aid.
Many companies stockpile supplies, he said.
One barge can carry what dozens of trucks carry for concrete manufacturer Ozinga Bros., Inc., said spokesman Tim Ozinga.
The company’s plant in Alsip “does get some materials by barge,” he said.
“It’s definitely an obstacle that we’re working on overcoming. We have plans in place to inform the drivers and re-route them. A lot of our sand and stone comes in on barges,” Ozinga said. “The barge is great. It can carry about 65 truckloads of material and relieves a lot of congestion on streets and is more environmentally friendly (than trucks).”
The company “usually has enough material stockpiled to get through a week’s worth of business,” said Ozinga, who is not too concerned about the traffic ban.
“It caused some unwanted complications to delivery in that area, but we plan to keep the location open and continue to serve the customers the best we can,” Ozinga said.
Complications for area motorists involve the closure of Route 83 from La Grange Road to Southwest Highway, again to give cleanup and repair crews the room they need. Palos Park police said an alternate east-west route is 119th Street from La Grange road to Southwest Highway.
Another alternate is 123rd Street, Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell said.
“We expect some people will be inconvenienced, but we are not anticipating a significant impact,” Tridgell said. “The closure is expected to be lifted later this week, so it is short term.”
He said between 10,000 to 14,500 vehicles use Route 83 every day.
Meanwhile, investigators are trying to determine what caused the pipeline to rupture at 2:40 a.m. Monday on the north side of the road in the 8400 block of West Route 83, said Marty White of Ohio-based Buckeye Partners, which operates the pipeline for West Shore Pipeline.
The company’s control center near Allentown, Pa., detected a drop in pressure in the line and valves supplying fuel were soon closed, he said.
Palos Park Village Manager Rick Boehm said the area is wooded and not a residential area, so no evacuations were needed. An odor from the fuel spill had dissipated by late Monday morning, Boehm said.
Boehm said a “sheen” could be seen atop the water in the Cal Sag channel, which also was closed. He said the channel is downhill from the site of the leak and that Monday morning’s rain may have accelerated the fuel’s dispersal into the channel water.
White said booms were used to contain the jet fuel so machines could be used to literally suck it off the surface of the water, and into containment tanker trucks.
Palos Park police and the Palos Fire Protection District first responded to the scene early Monday morning. Officials from the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Illinois Department of Transportation and Coast Guard were on hand by mid-morning.
The state and federal EPA are also there monitoring the cleanup.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District was at the site by 4:30 a.m. It was called because it is alerted any time something is spilled into a Chicago waterway, spokeswoman Allison Fore said.
“We have not observed any adverse effects on wildlife or aquatic life in the canal,” Fore said.” We will continue to monitor the canal and the surrounding land while the fuel is being cleaned up.”
Contributing: Mike Nolan