Lee County to pay $200K for oil spill cleanup

Lee County to pay $200K for oil spill cleanup

Source: Naples Daily News (FL), March 15, 2014
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Lee County will pay more than $200,000 for the clean-up and monitoring of a site where an emergency generator with a cracked filter bowl leaked about 600 gallons of diesel into the ground last August.

The leak happened at the Lee County Jail on Ortiz Avenue, and its effects have been mostly cleaned up. A small amount of diesel from the spill entered the groundwater, which led to the development of a one-year monitoring plan, but there seems to be no threat to the environment, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

DEP expects that diesel will be absorbed naturally by bacteria in the water, said Charles Masella, the department’s environmental consultant for the waste clean up.

What might be harder to absorb is the price tag.

Clean ups can involve scientists, excavations with heavy machines, contaminated dirt transport and disposal, multiple reports to the state — the list goes on.

“It gets expensive,” Masella said.

Tuesday, commissioners are expected to consider approval of $216,554.13 meant to cover the costs of the diesel leak clean-up and to pay for test wells required by the state to make sure contamination does not spread, according to agenda documents for the public meeting.

Funding would come from the county’s all hazard reserves, and Lee officials would pursue insurance reimbursement, agenda documents state.

“All of this was an unfortunate incident. We did everything that was supposed to be done,” said Richard Beck, director of Facilities Management, which provides maintenance services for various county properties.

The generator, which Beck said is more than 25 years old, is housed in a concrete blockhouse right in the center of the jail compound and is used to feed power to the visitor center in emergencies.

The piece that broke on the generator — a fuel and water separator — costs about $20 to $30, according to Facilities Management.

The county discovered the issue Aug. 21, which Beck estimates was about five to seven days after it began.

“As soon as we found the leak, we secured it,” he said.

SWS Environmental Services, based in Panama City, and Streamline Environmental Inc., with headquarters in Tampa, were contracted to clean up the mess and complete state-required reports and paperwork.

Workers dug out contaminated soil using both heavy equipment and manual labor from Aug. 22 to 27, according to a report submitted to the state by Streamline Environmental.

“We didn’t stop digging until we got down to clean dirt,” Beck said.

Crews went as deep as three feet below ground and excavated almost 112 tons of impacted soil, and transported it via roll-off boxes and dump trucks to Clean Earth of Southern Florida in Moore Haven, for thermal treatment the report states.

The clean up process total expense was $198,714.13. One-year of environmental monitoring services will cost an additional $17,840, for a grand total of $216,554.13.

Beck, who has worked with Facilities Management for 12 years, said you can’t always predict a spill but there’s one thing he knows for certain.

“All machines break,” he said.

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