NILES - Private cleanup crews reported Saturday that efforts were moving quickly to collect oil leaked into the Mahoning River from a malfunctioning water-oil separator at a Warren Township plant.
Little information was available on the amount of oil discharged, though, and fire officials said it was still too early to guess the cost of any cleanup now being conducted exclusively by several private companies. A spokesman with the Ohio Environment Protection Agency could not be reached for comment.
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.
A worker from Enviro Service out of Cleveland checks on absorbent booms used Saturday to soak up oil floating downstream in the Mahoning River from the ArcelorMittal plant in Warren Township.
Trumbull County Emergency Management Agency and HazMat traced the source of the leak to the ArcelorMittal plant off Main Avenue in Warren Township before OEPA officials arrived.
Warren Township fire Chief Ken Schick said Saturday that it wasn't until after the source was found that a second leak was discovered.
"My understanding is when they found the first leak, they noticed a sheen and more oil leaking from upstream. It was coming from a drainage ditch or a pipe in the vicinity of the powerhouse at the plant," Schick said.
He said the secondary leak was found about 7 p.m. Friday and plugged before dark.
Calls to ArcelorMittal - which converts coal into coke for the steel-making industry - were not immediately returned Friday or Saturday. But it was reported that the company was cooperating with the OEPA and all oil recovery efforts.
By noon Saturday, Weathersfield fire Chief Randy Pugh said his firefighters were pulling there boat out of a site on West Park Avenue about two miles downstream from the plant.
''The water looks pretty good now,'' Pugh said at the time.
Pugh headed farther downstream to a bridge over the Mahoning at Belmont Street in Niles where Enviro Service out of Cleveland and another private company - Clean Harbors Environmental Services - were manning absorbent booms and using a skimmer to vacuum on the surface of the river.
''It looks like we got everything I can see,'' said an Enviro Service employee who would not give his name but identified himself as the crew leader.