FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hydraulic system failure at Ohio River lock halts river navigation
PITTSBURGH -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Pittsburgh is alerting commercial navigation companies that operations at the New Cumberland Locks and Dam on the Ohio River, eight miles south of Wellsville, Ohio, halted after crews noticed a sheen inside the facility's main chamber, Dec. 12.
The lock staff determined that the hydraulic system that operates the main chamber's four 170-ton miter gates and the emptying and filling valves had failed.
The closure effectively stops navigation on the Ohio River upstream and downstream of the lock, creating a backlog of commercial vessels awaiting passage.
The lock will be out of operation for at least the next few days while engineers and maintenance crews determine a temporary solution to bring the lock chamber back into service. A more long-term fix could be several months away.
The Corps immediately deployed spill response measures to mitigate the spill upon its discovery and halted operations of the lock's hydraulic system.
The spill is mostly contained in the 110-ft by 1,200-ft primary lock chamber though a small amount did enter the waterway. Crews placed on-site spill containment booms to absorb fluid that escaped from the chamber and to stop the spread of fluid.
The district dispatched civil and environmental experts to investigate the spill and reported the situation to the U.S. Coast Guard's National Response Center, navigation interests and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, which monitors water quality on the Ohio River.
New Cumberland Locks and Dam is comprised of two lock chambers, an auxiliary and a main chamber. The Corps placed the 110-ft by 600-ft auxiliary lock chamber out of service approximately two years ago due to structural issues that prevent its safe operation.
Crews continue to monitor the situation. No further spillage is expected due to the current shutdown of the hydraulic system and closure of the chamber.
Mariners are advised to monitor marine radio Channel 13 for additional information.
The Pittsburgh District’s 23 locks and dams on the upper Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny rivers represent the oldest and largest network of navigation facilities in the Army Corps’ national inland marine transportation system.