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Duke Energy Pleads Guilty In Beckjord Oil Spill

Duke Energy pleaded guilty Tuesday for negligent discharge of oil that resulted in 9,000 gallons of diesel fuel being spilled into the Ohio River.

Duke Energy Beckjord LLC and its president Charles Whitlock pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday in connection with a 2014 oil spill into the Ohio River.

As a result the company admitted to violating the Clean Water Act, paid a $1 million fine and contributed $100,000 to the Foundation for Ohio River Education (FORE).

Duke Energy Beckjord, LLC Statement                      

This agreement allows our company to put this incident behind us and move forward. We immediately apologized for the oil spill at our Beckjord facility in Ohio, took responsibility for the accident and responded quickly in coordination with dozens of state and federal agencies to ensure that people and the environment remained safe and well protected. We have used the accident as an opportunity to learn and improve. For example, over the past two years, we have worked hard to further strengthen our processes, training and emergency plans at our facilities.

The company says a worker performing a routine fuel transfer from one tank to another  didn't stop it at the right time and it spilled into a secondary containment area and it got into the river.

The U.S. Government says the secondary containment area had a valve that was rusted open and should have been checked.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman (center-speaking) says this should be a message to other companies to make sure everything is working.

U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said at a news conference Tuesday this needs to be a wake-up call. "Folks really need to spend the time and money to make sure that the systems that they have in place to prevent these problems actually work. That's the takeaway from my perspective."

At the time Cincinnati Water Works reacted quickly, closing intake valves for drinking water as explained in WVXU's coverage of the spill.