Truck services

City of Cincinnati Rations Diesel Across Departments, Including Essential Services

CINCINNATI (WXIX / Enquirer) – City services are under threat due to a slowdown in the supply chain that supplies the city of Cincinnati with diesel fuel.

City Manager Paula Boggs Muething released a note this week (below) alerting the mayor and city council members to the issue. The impacted services include:

  • Cincinnati Fire Department emergency response vehicles;
  • Water and sewer repair and maintenance services;
  • Snow clearing vehicles;
  • Garbage collection vehicles; and
  • Machines for essential road repairs.

The city’s emergency diesel reserve is 25% below normal levels.

Traditionally, the reserve is sufficient to provide a month of essential services, but this time frame, according to the note, does not take into account the services required in the event of snow or flooding.

All city departments were urged to take the following steps to “conserve the city’s diesel fuel supply” upon receipt of the note:

  • The use of diesel fuel associated with all park and recreation functions should be discontinued unless it has an impact on health and safety;
  • Stop all non-essential travel in vehicles that use diesel fuel; and
  • Consolidate teams into fewer vehicles or use non-diesel vehicles for all essential transportation.

The city’s diesel comes from a multi-state distribution network. Over the past two weeks, according to the note, major disruptions in that network have created supply shocks in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana.

According to the note, two refineries in Ohio simultaneously decided to perform preventive maintenance, which resulted in the refinery slowing or stopping production.

“Although preventive maintenance is a routine event typically performed on an annual or semi-annual basis, the concurrent shutdowns at these refineries are unprecedented and unexpected,” Muething wrote.

Muething also cites an “industry-wide labor shortage” that has exacerbated pressure on the supply chain and impacted the cost of fuel.

Thomas Balzer, president and CEO of the Ohio Trucking Association, which represents more than 800 trucking companies, told our media partners at Enquirer that it was a “precarious situation.”

Balzer said he had read accounts on social media of fuel shortages in parts of Ohio and that some truck stops were even limiting diesel fuel purchases to 60 or 80 gallons per truck. “It might sound like a lot to you and me, but to a truck driver it’s nothing,” he said.

Balzer said he had not seen evidence of widespread fuel shortages resulting from the shutdowns – at least not yet. He argued that the bigger problem could be a shortage of tanker drivers delivering diesel fuel from refineries to retail gas stations.

“The diesel industry feels the same problems as everyone else,” he said. “We have a shortage of drivers and a high demand for our product. [….] If you cannot move the tanker forward, you will not be able to deliver the fuel.

The city expects production to return to normal by the end of the year.

The administration will continue to seek “alternative distribution options,” said Muething’s memo.

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