Ohio's hazmat spills rank second
highest in nation
Hazardous materials damage, cleanup cost state $1.8 million
last year, 10th year at top of ranking
COLUMBUS - Ohio ranked second last year in the number
of hazardous-material spills on highways, railways and
in the air -- the 10th consecutive year that it has either
had the highest or second-highest number of spills, according
to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The 1,223 spills last year trailed only the 1,324 spills
recorded in Illinois.
Last year, spills in Ohio resulted in $1.8 million worth
of damage and cleanup. Most highway spills involved a
corrosive chemical such as an acid or a flammable material
such as gasoline.
The federal transportation agency said 90 percent of
the highway spills occurred because of human error, including
dropped or punctured packages. Another 8 percent were
the result of corrosion or a defect in the packaging,
such as an improper seal.
Despite Ohio's record, ``I don't think it's as bad as
it looks,'' said Rob Marvin, transportation director for
the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which inspects
trucks and trucking companies.
He said the state is doing a good job of getting cargo
companies to follow the regulations on carrying hazardous
He said heavy truck traffic crossing Ohio is mostly to
blame for the spills. The Ohio Department of Transportation
said the state has the fifth-highest volume of truck traffic
in the United States.
``This is the last category Ohio wants to be a leader
in,'' said Jack Shaner, a spokesman for the Ohio Environmental
``This is why we need strong safeguards and why we need
to enforce them vigorously,'' he said. ``No one would
want a hazardous material percolating into their well
or under the school playground or in the nearby stream.''
Last year, FedEx Ground had 484 highway spills, nearly
half of the total number of highway spills and nearly
400 more than Yellow Freight System, the second-ranking
FedEx Ground spokeswoman Allison Sobczak said the high
number of spills was partly due to the company's high
volume of traffic. FedEx Ground has 10 hubs in Ohio.
``We certainly take safety very seriously,'' she said.
``I think that the number represents we're reporting every
one'' of the spills.
Federal law requires that companies report all spills.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requires notification
of spills involving at least 25 gallons.
There were no reported spills in Ohio's waterways last
year and 34 spills on railways.
Airborne Express was responsible for 63 spills -- about
75 percent of the state's 85 air spills last year.
Considering that the hub in Wilmington handles nearly
20,000 packages a night, 63 spills isn't a bad record,
said Beth Huber, a spokeswoman for ABX Air, which transports
packages for Airborne Express.
``Spills are just a part of being in the business of
transporting freight,'' she said. ``Customers don't always
package the materials as they should.''