Spill gives fire station some homework

By KARL SCHWEIZER

Herald Writer

EVERETT — Firefighters returning from a call found an emergency of their own waiting at the station.

More than 350 gallons of diesel fuel had leaked from a tank used to refuel firetrucks at Snohomish County Fire District 1’s station 11, just south of Mariner High School.

The fuel ran down ditches and storm drains before flowing into a storm-water retention pond bordering the Interurban Trail, said state Department of Ecology spill responder Dick Walker.

The spill, discovered at 1:29 a.m. Friday, sent firefighters, a private contractor and Department of Ecology workers scrambling to contain the fuel. Cleanup crews were hampered by darkness and a steady rain that helped spread the fuel, Walker said.

Most of the fuel had been absorbed or contained by 3:30 a.m., said Leslie Hynes, spokeswoman for the fire district.

Walker said the spill had no serious environmental consequences. There was no hazard to drinking water or to wildlife. However, the cumulative effect of many diesel spills can be harmful, Walker warned. Also, passersby on the Interurban Trail complained of a diesel odor coming from the retention pond, Walker said.

Hynes said firefighters are investigating whether the leak was caused by a mechanical problem or by vandalism.

"We’ve been having mechanical problems with that pump. It was scheduled for repairs within the next two weeks," Hynes said.

Normally, three switches need to be turned on for fuel to run, she said. An emergency shut-off valve attached to the fire station must be on, another valve on the fuel tank must be on, and an operator must squeeze a handle on the fuel nozzle in order to pump.

The fueling point has been disconnected from electrical power, rendering it inoperable, and won’t be restarted until firefighters know what caused the spill, Hynes said.

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