Minutes of the

Upper Mississippi River

Hazardous Spills Coordination Group Meeting

 

October 25, 2000

 

Hampton Inn

Eagan, Minnesota

 

 

Jim O’Brien of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency called the meeting to order at 12:03 p.m. on October 25, 2000.  The following Spills Group members and observers were present:

 

 

Jim O’Brien

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

 

Dave Perry

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

 

Steve Lee

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

 

Kevin Faus

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

 

Craig Strand

Minnesota Department of Public Safety

 

John Whitaker

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

 

John Grump

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

 

Susan Hampton

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division

 

Theresa Kauzlarich

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District

 

Dick Beatty

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District

 

Dave Pertuz

U.S. Coast Guard, Eighth District

 

Jason Neubauer

U.S. Coast Guard, St. Paul MSD

 

Todd Dudley

U.S. Coast Guard, St. Paul MSD

 

Steve Faryan

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

 

Ann Whelan

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

 

Barbi Lee

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

 

Scott Hayes

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7

 

Stan Smith

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3

 

Rich Gullick

American Water Works Service Company

 

Walter Grayman

W.M. Grayman Consulting Engineer

 

Alan Vicory

Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission

 

Tom Rayburn

Great Lakes Commission

 

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

 

Minutes of the April Meeting

 

The minutes of the April 3, 2000 meeting were approved as written.

 

Protection Strategies

 

Twin Cities Response Strategies Pilot

 

Steve Lee briefly described the Minneapolis/St. Paul Sub-Area planning and mapping efforts, noting that the plan attempts to bridge the gap between local and regional plans while focusing in particular on the three major rivers in the sub-area (i.e., the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix Rivers).  Upon completion of the sub-area plan and inland sensitivity maps, the sub‑area committee initiated a pilot effort to develop site-specific response strategies using information from the plan and maps as well as insight from field assessments.  Teams of responders and resource managers, working from both the land and water, have evaluated portions of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.  Lee described several challenges encountered, including getting people to use consistent terminology and methodology and take sufficient field notes.  Using notes from the field assessments, UMRBA staff developed standardized text descriptions for each site as well as special maps showing the site locations and some key features from the more elaborate inland sensitivity maps.  Lee distributed sample strategy descriptions and maps. 

 

In addition to providing a starting point for actual response activities, Lee said the response strategies help facility operators prepare response plans and help agency personnel review those plans.  Developing the strategies also can identify areas where no response is possible and areas where more study is needed.  Finally, the process of identifying strategies opens important dialogues with landowners and resource managers.

 

Lee said next steps in the Twin Cities will include testing and modifying the strategies already identified as well as assessing the remainder of the three major rivers in the sub-area.  Lee explained that industries were asked to volunteer to test strategies.  Those strategies for which no industry volunteers will be assigned. 

 

Susan Hampton asked whether the response strategies reflect information that may already be in facilities’ plans.  Lee explained that facility operators were encouraged to participate on the sub-area committee and in the response strategies pilot.  He observed that facility plans generally identify sensitive areas, using information from the inland maps, but do not typically have well-considered, site-specific response strategies.  Lee said that the sub-area committee’s response strategies effort has prompted facilities to cooperate and enhance their joint capabilities. 

 

Dave Perry requested a copy of Minnesota statutes and regulations governing facility planning and mandatory drills.  The other state spills group members indicated that their states do not have specific plan and drill requirements.  Lee reported that Minnesota has conducted three unannounced drills, each of which revealed substantial shortcomings and was followed by the company making significant investments in its response capabilities.

 

Ohio River Experience Using Locks and Dams to Facilitate Response

 

Steve Faryan said Tom Olson of the Corps’ Huntington District reports using lock chambers to contain relatively small spills (i.e., less than 1,000 gallons) in three or four instances.  According to Faryan, Olson had relatively positive feedback on the potential of using lock chambers to contain materials that are not flammable or highly toxic.  Olson did not see much potential for modifying dam operations on the Ohio to facilitate containment in the event of a spill, though he did note that dams could serve to volatilize some types of material.  Faryan reported that a coal slurry spill in Martin County, Kentucky has the potential to reach the Ohio River through Wolf and Big Sandy Creeks.  River levels on the Ohio are being raised in an effort to back up water, and thus the spilled material, in the tributaries.  Dave Perry asked whether dams actually volatilize material or simply mix it in the water column, from which it reemerges later.  Faryan said he was unaware of any studies on the subject.

 

FOSC/Corps Coordination Protocol

 

Susan Hampton reported that she has prepared a draft FOSC/COE coordination protocol, which she described as similar to the approach outlined in Colonel Mudd’s July 1999 letter to Rick Karl.  She emphasized that the draft maintains the Corps’ flexibility to respond to requests on a case-by-case basis.  Counsel at the Mississippi Valley Division is currently reviewing the draft.  Hampton said she would circulate the draft to the Spills Group once it is cleared for release.

 

Jim O’Brien said he hoped MVD counsel would clear the draft before the Spills Group’s next meeting.  O’Brien acknowledged Hampton’s point that Corps personnel have only first responder training and emphasized that the state and federal response agencies are not asking the Corps to assume an OSC role.  He explained that the value of the coordination protocol would be to facilitate direct communication between responders and lock personnel rather than requiring communication to run up and down the agencies’ respective hierarchies.

 

Water Intake Notification

 

The state Spills Group members reviewed their states’ requirements and procedures for notifying water intake operators.  Jim O’Brien said Illinois EPA’s Emergency Response Unit has a 24-hour duty officer, who is responsible for notifying intake operators.  O’Brien said the unit maintains a comprehensive list of drinking water intakes.  If responders are not able to reach a plant by phone, they often enlist the assistance of local law enforcement.  O’Brien said the state will also notify potentially affected power plant operators where they are known.  However, the state responders do not maintain a comprehensive list of power plant locations, other than what exists in the UMR Spills Plan.  O’Brien said state responders use their judgment in determining which operators to notify.

 

Dave Perry said there is not always a duty officer in Des Moines to receive calls to Iowa’s spill line.  In that event, notification goes directly to the duty officer for the appropriate field office.  Iowa law requires the state to notify surface drinking water intakes of pollution events, regardless of quantity.  Perry said intake operators genuinely appreciate the notifications and do not object to being notified of small spills.  The state spills plan includes 24-hour contact numbers for all surface drinking water intakes.  State responders use their discretion in determining whether to notify power plants and industrial intakes of spill events.  Per the UMR Spills Plan, Iowa responders also use their judgment in determining whether to notify other states of spills in Iowa.  In response to a question from Steve Lee, Perry said that Iowa law does not require spillers to notify potentially affected downstream facilities such as water intakes.

 

John Grump said calls to Wisconsin’s spill line are answered in Madison by the Bureau of Law Enforcement, which notifies the duty officer.  The duty officer in turn notifies the DNR conservation warden for the area, who notifies the regional spills coordinator.  Grump observed that there are no drinking water intakes on the Mississippi in Wisconsin, though four power plants rely on the river for cooling water.  Notification to the power plants is based on the regional spill coordinator’s best judgment.  Grump said he maintains a list of emergency contact numbers for power plants and indicated that the plant operators appreciate receiving notice of spills.

 

Kevin Faus explained that the state duty officer answers Minnesota’s spill line and notifies the appropriate state agency(ies).  In addition, the duty officer has informal arrangements to notify major drinking water suppliers and Xcel Energy power plants directly.  Faus said he assumes the duty officer would also notify other intake operators where known (e.g., if they are identified in the UMR Spills Plan or other plans).  Lee stressed the value of redundant notifications and said MPCA also generally notifies potentially affected intake operators.

 

John Whitaker reported that Missouri maintains a central 24-hour spill reporting line.  State law requires responsible parties to notify either the National Response Center (NRC) or the state.  When the state receives notice of a spill, it notifies the DNR’s drinking water program, which has discretion in determining whether to notify any drinking water operators.  Similarly, the state duty officer exercises discretion in deciding whether to notify any power plant or industrial intakes.

 

Theresa Kauzlarich said the Rock Island District’s lock plans require local coordination.  For some of the locks, this includes provisions for notifying drinking water intakes.  O’Brien said such potential duplication is not cause for concern, noting that duplication is far better than omission when it comes to spill notification.  Grump said intake operators can also benefit from multiple notifications because one source may have more information about the incident.

 

Steve Faryan observed that each state has a system in place for notifying intake operators.  Faryan said he asked about the states’ protocols at the Spills Group’s last meeting only because it was apparent that there is no centralized notification system for intakes on the UMR.  Faryan said he sees no need to pursue such a system, given that each state has provisions for notification.

 

Perry asked whether the Spills Group would like to have a presentation from NRC staff regarding how the Center works and makes notifications.  O’Brien said most of the Spills Group members had probably already seen such a presentation at an RRT meeting.

 

UMR Early Warning Monitoring Network

 

Rich Gullick briefly described American Water Works Service Company (AWWSC), the largest U.S.‑based, investor-owned water utility in the country, and its interest in protecting intake water quality.  As one means of furthering this goal, Gullick said AWWSC’s subsidiaries and other intake operators on the UMR are interested in exploring the possibility of an early warning monitoring network.  Such a network could detect a sudden deterioration in the source water supply as well as compounds that might pose chronic health problems.  Gullick overviewed early warning systems, including general characteristics, issues, methodologies, and scales.  He noted that a complete system includes not only detection mechanisms and analytical capabilities but also a communications infrastructure and response mechanisms.

 

Gullick reported on preliminary discussions he has held with AWWSC’s subsidiaries, other UMR intake operators, and some UMR Spills Group members.  He said that there seems to be a general consensus that commercial navigation, railroads, pipelines, and fixed facilities pose a substantial risk on the UMR and that a monitoring network could be one way of managing this risk.  According to Gullick, potential benefits beyond spill detection include improved communication, increased spills reporting, decreased incidence of spills, improved public confidence, and better public information during spill events.  Gullick expressed his preference for a centralized communications hub, similar to the system used on the Ohio River, rather than the “state-by-state” approach currently in use on the UMR.

 

Walter Grayman described his in-progress study of early warning and predictive source water monitoring systems.  He explained that advanced warning systems are typically extensive in size and/or scope; use on-line state-of-the-art monitoring equipment; and integrate monitoring, modeling, and communications.  There are relatively few such systems in existence.  Grayman cited the Ohio River system coordinated by ORSANCO as the premier advanced system in the U.S. and briefly highlighted features of other notable international systems.  He described differences in institutional structures, regulatory frameworks, monitoring methods, analytical techniques, and public involvement. 

 

According to Grayman, the mathematical models used to predict fate and transport as part of a warning system must provide timely and generally accurate predictions.   They need not, however, be extraordinarily accurate.  It is more important, he stressed, that they be easy to use for non-modelers.  In the early 1990s, Grayman worked with ORSANCO to develop a model for the Ohio River.  It has been refined based on feedback from ORSANCO’s water users group and Grayman is now attempting to generalize it for use on other rivers. 

 

Grayman’s current study also includes a risk-based modeling approach to examining various factors related to spills.  Probabilities are assigned to events and processes, such as flow conditions, the occurrence of spills, etc.  Then the implications of different monitoring, treatment, and operating policies are examined in terms of their impacts on finished water quality.  According to Grayman, his preliminary findings include the following:

·       penalties and legal threats are effective in reducing spills and encouraging self-reporting;

·       monitoring, self-reporting, and public reporting should all be components of an early warning system;

·       institutional structure is needed for coordination; and

·       raw water storage provides a useful barrier.

 

Alan Vicory provided some background on ORSANCO, an interstate compact commission formed by the six states bordering the Ohio River.  ORSANCO implements the Ohio River detection system in coordination with a water users group that includes representatives from among the 72 drinking water, industrial, and power plant intakes on the Ohio River.  Vicory explained that the Ohio River system was established in 1978 in direct response to a carbon tetrachloride spill.  It is designed to provide a systemic approach to spills detection and communication on the river.  It also serves to enhance public confidence in water supplies.

 

The Ohio River system currently includes fourteen intake operators, most of which are drinking water suppliers.  They operate monitoring stations at their intakes.  This involves taking samples at least daily, notifying ORSANCO immediately if anything unusual is detected, and forwarding routine data to ORSANCO weekly.  ORSANCO coordinates the system, provides technical assistance, manages the data, serves as a communications hub, and owns most of the equipment used. 

 

Samples are analyzed for 22 compounds.  In addition, there are other contaminants that the stations can detect, but not identify.  A response is triggered if the maximum contaminant level for a regulated compound is exceeded or if the concentration of an unregulated compound exceeds 2 micrograms per liter.  If a problem is detected, a duplicate analysis is performed, notification is made, and modeling and tracking are initiated.  Vicory estimated costs to equip a station at between $30,000 and $50,000 and said the equipment typically has a 10-year lifespan.  In addition, ORSANCO’s FY 00 costs for staff, travel, supplies, and other related expenses totaled $162,800.  According to Vicory, major benefits of the system include enhanced cooperation and relationships, other uses to which utilities can put the equipment, and increased spills reporting.

 

Gullick said he has contacted 22 drinking water operators on the river between St. Cloud, Minnesota and Chester, Illinois regarding participation in a UMR Water Users Coalition.  While he has not yet done so, Gullick also plans to contact industrial and power plant intakes.  Gullick briefly summarized preliminary results from a survey of the UMR drinking water suppliers.  Respondents identified transportation-related accidents as the most serious potential contamination threat.  Other major threats include nonpoint sources, industrial spills, and sewage discharges.  All of the utilities contacted have expressed at least conceptual support for an early warning monitoring system on the UMR.  Gullick presented letters from several water utilities in support of a network.

 

Gullick said he would envision starting by developing a central information clearinghouse.  The clearinghouse would facilitate compilation, analysis, and dissemination of water quality data that are currently generated.  Gullick also foresees the clearinghouse serving as a communications hub for spill notification.  If additional data are warranted, then the next step would involve developing the necessary monitoring capabilities at strategic locations.  Gullick identified the following near-term next steps for exploring a potential monitoring network:

·       continue formation of the UMR Water Users Coalition (AWWCS lead);

·       identify the primary risks to UMR water quality and water treatment plant intakes;

·       review the types of data already available; and

·       identify what additional data, if any, might be desired to optimize system benefits.

 

Jim O’Brien thanked Gullick, Grayman, and Vicory for their presentations.  John Grump noted that there are no drinking water intakes on the UMR in Wisconsin.  However, Grump said Wisconsin would still be interested in such a system because of its potential contributions to deterrence and early detection.  Steve Lee suggested that the states’ drinking water personnel be brought into the discussion.  Susan Hampton asked whether ORSANCO would be able to manage data from a UMR monitoring system.  Vicory said it would be preferable to have a UMR-based entity be responsible for data management and system coordination.  In response to a question from O’Brien, Vicory said much of ORSANCO’s funding for the Ohio River network has come from the Clean Water Act Section 106 funds that are reserved for certain interstate basin commissions.  Vicory suggested that the Safe Drinking Water Act’s source water protection program might be a source of funding for a UMR network.  He emphasized that a successful system cannot rely exclusively on EPA funding.  Ann Whelan said she has done some preliminary exploration regarding possible sources of EPA funds.

 

Barb Naramore stressed the need to more clearly articulate what the agencies and intake operators are interested in doing before seeking funding.  She also noted that start-up and maintenance for a network present distinct challenges and may well require different funding sources.  Gullick urged that the effort start by developing a mechanism for communication and data sharing before pursuing expanded data collection that would involve a significant equipment investment.  In response to a question from John Whitaker, Gullick said most utilities on the river currently have only basic monitoring and analytical capabilities.  Lee suggested a strategy of having the intake operators pay for the aspects of the system that benefit them directly and having a more general source of funding for those elements that serve common interests.

 

O’Brien recommended that further discussion and decisions regarding the network await the results of Gullick’s survey.  In particular, O’Brien said he wanted information about the intakes’ current monitoring capabilities.  He noted that expensive equipment such as gas chromatographs may not be necessary to monitor the major contaminants of concern on the UMR.  O’Brien offered to represent the Spills Group at a meeting of the Water Users Coalition.  Naramore said she would update the UMRBA Representatives at the Association’s November meeting.  It was agreed that the Spills Group would coordinate as necessary between meetings via conference call.

 

Regional Response Capabilities

 

Ann Whelan presented an analysis of regional response capabilities, reporting that most parts of the region are within a six-hour drive of a contractor.  However, she emphasized that there is only about 21,000 feet of boom available on the UMR mainstem, 75 percent of which is in the St. Louis area.  Almost that amount again is located elsewhere within Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, largely in Chicago.  Under OPA, facilities must be able to deploy sufficient equipment within 12 hours to respond to a worst case scenario (assumed to involve recovering 10,000 barrels per day).  They must also have 1,000 feet of boom and the means to deploy it within one hour.  Whelan said Region 5’s unannounced exercises have demonstrated that many facilities cannot meet the one-hour requirement.

 

After some discussion, the group agreed to consider various options for addressing the limitations in regional response capabilities.  These options include ensuring that facility and vessel plans are consistent with the Area Contingency Plans, encouraging industry cooperatives, exploring non-traditional response strategies and equipment (e.g., alternatives to boom), and focusing on areas of greatest risk (e.g., pipeline crossings).  Dave Pertuz also urged the group to consider ways to enhance spill prevention.  Steve Lee asked whether EPA and the Coast Guard could hire a contractor to develop response strategies for the UMR and identify the equipment required to implement those strategies.  Whelan said EPA can use its oil funding to develop strategies in the event of a spill, but not in advance of an incident.  Pertuz observed that any such effort for the entire UMR would be quite expensive.  Jim O’Brien urged Spills Group members to give further consideration to options for enhancing regional response capabilities.

 

Whelan also reported that Section 4112 of OPA 90 authorized the Corps to study the potential for modifying dredges for use in removing oil and hazardous substances.  Barb Naramore said she had contacted staff at the Corps’ Waterways Experiment Station to determine whether any work was done under this authority.  [Subsequent to the meeting, Naramore obtained the results of a 1991 study that evaluated the use of two Corps hopper dredges in response to the Exxon Valdez spill and made recommendations regarding potential future use of Corps hopper dredges.  Naramore distributed the Executive Summary of the study to Spills Group members on November 28.]

 

Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System

 

Dave Pertuz reported that there are no plans to move the Granite City-based VOSS out of the St. Louis area.  He noted that the VOSS will most likely continue to be stored at the former Granite City Army Base, which is now operated by the Navy.  The Coast Guard has transferred the New Orleans-based VOSS to Honolulu. 

 

Pertuz said Commander Drieu would like to exercise the VOSS and other fast water response equipment in the late spring or early summer of next year.  Other equipment to be deployed would include boom vane and high-speed skimmers.  Pertuz said tentative plans were to hold the exercise in Paducah, but that was before Drieu and Pertuz learned of the Spills Group’s previous request for such an exercise in St. Louis.  Spills Group members reiterated their strong support for a field assessment in the St. Louis area.  Pertuz said the Coast Guard is particularly interested in the possibility of using an Illinois ferry as a deployment platform.  

 

Pertuz said the Coast Guard’s primary objective would be to evaluate the performance of the equipment in a big river environment.  Spills Group members concurred, recommending that the effort be limited to equipment deployment, rather than trying to incorporate other aspects of an exercise.  Pertuz said the Coast Guard has six new high-speed skimmers, two of which are stationed on the Atlantic and two of which are on the Pacific.  Pertuz said the remaining two may go to the Gulf Strike Team, but a final decision has not been made. 

 

In response to a question from Dave Perry, Pertuz said some components of the VOSS could be released to a qualified contractor in the event of a spill.  But the whole system, which requires extensive training, would not be released.  In response to a question from Barb Naramore, Pertuz said a letter from the Spills Group expressing support for the equipment exercise would be helpful.  Pertuz, O’Brien, and Naramore agreed to coordinate further regarding the exercise.

 

Outreach/Training

 

Dave Perry reported that the September 7 Quad Cities river response workshop was generally well received by the approximately 70 participants.  Perry said the Quad Cities session generally followed the outline of the February 2000 Tri-State/Spills Group workshops in Wabasha and Prairie du Chien.   Several Spills Group members were presenters at the Quad Cities workshop.  According to Perry, attendees did note inconsistencies among some presenters on issues such as the feasibility of recovering product on a large river.  Scott Hayes and Perry expressed concern with the lack of local involvement in the Quad Cities Sub-Area planning effort.

 

Theresa Kauzlarich reported that the City of Muscatine is interested in holding an exercise at L&D 16.

 

Hayes reported on fast water boom training that he recently attended in Taos, New Mexico.  He said the training was focused on much smaller rivers than the Upper Mississippi or the Missouri and relied on the use of ropes and anchors to hold the boom in fast current.  Hayes noted that this approach was very labor-intensive even on relatively small streams.  He said the training would need to be modified substantially before it would be appropriate for big river response.  Tom Rayburn reported that the Coast Guard is publishing a field guide on fast water response.  Hayes said EPA’s Environmental Response Team could be another source for big river response training.

 

Barb Naramore circulated a response brochure for the Baton Rouge area.  The Coast Guard prepared the brochure in cooperation with the state, city, and USGS.  Naramore said she thought the brochure was quite effective in conveying basic information concisely, including key contact numbers and general locations of industrial facilities, water intakes, and environmentally sensitive areas.

 

Perry reported that the Tri-State Hazmat Group is planning a workshop for May 2001 on issues related to immediate spill response.  Topics will likely include the role of elected officials, media, notification, and reimbursement.

 

Freshwater Spills Web Site

 

Tom Rayburn reported on the recently established Freshwater Spills Information Clearinghouse (www.freshwaterspills.net).  The site is sponsored by the Great Lakes Spill Protection Initiative, which is a coalition of Great Lakes Governors and the CEOs of major oil companies that do business on the lakes.  Rayburn overviewed the site, which provides access to planning and response information, research, data, and abstracts.  Designers took care to make the site friendly for field users (e.g., small size pages that permit quick loading) and is selective in the other sites to which it links.  A list serve will foster communication within the freshwater spills community.

 

Ann Whelan described a “small science” initiative, under which the Freshwater Spills Information Clearinghouse will be a repository for data on small freshwater spills.  Noting that federal agencies do not typically respond to such spills, she said local and state personnel will likely be the primary contributors to the database.  To make the process as easy as possible, people will be able to submit data on paper or upload information directly to the site.  However, to enhance the validity and comparability of the data, they will be asked to use a standardized data submission form.  Whelan distributed a draft of the submission form and invited Spills Group members to comment.  Pertuz encouraged Whelan to separate narrative comments from other data submitted in order to facilitate data analysis.  

 

Planning and Mapping Issues

 

Barb Naramore distributed review copies of the revised UMR Spills Plan and requested comments and corrections by November 8.  She also reported that updates to some of the resource appendices are pending, awaiting receipt of data from the states.  After these data updates are received and incorporated, the fully revised plan will be distributed to Spills Group members, who will in turn be responsible for distributing the plan within their state or agency.  Naramore said the UMRBA is developing a web site and will post the UMR Plan on the site.  After some discussion, Spills Group members decided not to execute a new MOA as part of the comprehensive update to the UMR Plan.

 

John Whitaker reported that the Greater St. Louis Sub-Area Committee is nearing completion of its plan.  According to Whitaker, the most significant item remaining is development of a communications protocol.

 

Ann Whelan reported that final maps for the UMR from the Twin Cities to Cape Girardeau will be complete by the end of the calendar year.  These maps include one county on each side of the river.  Whelan said the next phase of the mapping work will include the Wisconsin River, Illinois River, and Red River of the North.

 

Agency Updates/Reports on Recent Incidents

 

Jim O’Brien reported that Illinois has not had any major incidents on the Mississippi River since the Spills Group’s April meeting.  As part of organizational changes within Illinois EPA, the office that O’Brien heads is being renamed the “Office of Emergency Response.”

 

John Whitaker reported that Ken Teeter is no longer with Missouri DNR.  Whitaker also described a recent incident involving a pipeline on the Missouri River near St. Charles.  Since the 1993 flood, there have been problems with intermittent oil releases from an unknown source.  An angler managed to mark the spot where the oil appeared to be surfacing.  The current in the area is too swift for divers, but sonar and other investigation suggest that the source is an inactive pipeline owned by Equilon.  Whitaker said the leaking appears to have stopped for the time being.  Equilon does not have records regarding the pipeline’s original shutdown, but has agreed to purge and seal the line.  This work is pending.  [Note:  subsequent to the Spills Group meeting, there was a release during Equilon’s attempt to purge the line.]

 

Dave Perry briefly summarized spills to the Mississippi and its tributaries in Iowa since the first of the year.   These included a spill of 50 to 100 gallons of fertilizers and herbicides to a fast moving stream with no recovery; 40,000 gallons of animal and vegetable products to the Yellow River; 1,000 gallons of sulfuric acid to Beaver Channel; and 400 gallons of engine oil directly to the Mississippi at Keokuk.

 

John Grump said there have been no major incidents in Wisconsin on the Mississippi River, though a few sheens have been reported at locks.  According to Grump, the state has been very busy dealing with methamphetamine labs.  Grump said he had responded to five meth labs in the last six months, including one in a boathouse on the Mississippi.  Due to a shortage of Drug Enforcement Agency funds, Grump said Wisconsin has been forced to use money from its abandoned container fund for some meth lab expenses.  Steve Lee said Minnesota has had a similar experience, but said DEA has additional funding now and will reimburse states for such expenses.  Lee said he would provide Grump with the necessary information.  Grump said Wisconsin has also had several recent incidents involving residential fuel oil tanks.

 

Other Business

 

Scheduling of the next UMR Spills Group meeting was deferred in hopes of holding it in conjunction with the VOSS demonstration.  [Note:  the Spills Group meeting and VOSS demonstration were subsequently scheduled for May 8-10.]

 

Spring 2001 will mark the end of Jim O’Brien’s two-year term as chair of the Spills Group.  With the concurrence of the group’s members, John Grump agreed to serve the next two-year term as chair, commencing with the spring 2001 meeting.