Clean up efforts continue at Indianapolis creek after jet fuel spill


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Marion County Public Health Department continue to provide oversight while contractors work 24 hours a day to clean up the jet fuel spill that occurred on February 20.

The efforts are happening at Pleasant Run Creek.

The spill happened after 4,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from a tractor-trailer that wrecked and exploded on the I-70 eastbound ramp.

The cleanup efforts may take weeks to complete. 

Data sheets supplied by the trucking company show that the jet fuel spilled was almost entirely composed of kerosene.

This fuel produces an odor when evaporation occurs, which is dependent on multiple factors, including wind velocity, temperature and the fuel layer thickness. Throughout cleanup activities, fuel odors or fuel sheen may be present, but they will lessen as the cleanup progresses. 

As more fuel is recovered, the odor will reduce. 

Gabriel Filippelli, an earth sciences professor at IUPUI, has spent the last two years researching contamination of the creek from other sources.

“It has all this combined sewer outflows, which means in high rain water events, it gets raw sewage put into it, so it already has a lot of very harmful bacteria in it and a couple of industrial sites on it,” Filppelli explained.

He said this type of fuel can be cleaned up and shouldn’t cause too much harm if it’s addressed quickly.

IDEM and the public health department are making sure crews work quickly to remove the fuel through a vacuum truck.

 If it doesn’t get cleaned up in a timely manner, there could be problems.

The spill has already impacted wildlife. The Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic took in four ducks they believe were impacted by the spill.

“There’s a risk of ingestion, and when there is substances such as grease, oil or fuel on the feathers, it takes ways the water proofing properties of the feathers and the temperature regulation properties,” said veterinarian Sarah Dehn.

The ducks were cleaned and are being housed by Providence Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.

The ducks will be released back into the wild in about three weeks, once their feathers are re-coated.

Officials say because no drinking water lines come from the area, humans shouldn’t be impacted.

IDEM and the health department are asking people to stay away from the creek.

Officials says the odor from the fuel will go away once more of it is cleaned out of the creek.

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