For over 30 years, ORSANCO has worked to assure that water utilities are sufficiently warned about upstream spills. The goal of the Emergency Response Program is to protect Ohio River public water supply intakes from the impacts of spills, notifying public water supply intakes with information about river conditions. ORSANCO also contacts appropriate federal, state, and local agencies and coordinates on-river monitoring as necessary. Spills are received by ORSANCO staff on a 24-hour basis.
Because the Ohio River is a boundary between states for 941 of its 981 mile length, any spill represents a potential interstate impact. State and federal agencies with primary emergency response authorities routinely report all such spills to ORSANCO, who in turn relays the information to the states whose waters may be impacted. The vast majority of spills are small and have only local impacts; once the initial and follow-up reports have been disseminated, such incidents can be considered closed.
A major spill requires continued involvement by ORSANCO and the diversion of staff from other programs. Staff activities can include:
- Participation in Regional Response Team activation, either on scene or via teleconference;
- Frequent information updates to state agencies and water supply utilities;
- Activation of the Organics Detection System for intensive volatiles monitoring at affected sites;
- Arranging for samples of contaminated water to be collected for further analyses.
- On-river monitoring.
Typically, one or more of these activities are required for one or two incidents each year. An extremely large spill can require prolonged diversion of significant staff resources requiring curtailment of other activities. Annually, staff prepares a spills summary report which is available to the public.
For more information on the Emergency Response Program, please contact Sam Dinkins.