City of Medford reports on 1/6/14 oil spill

This letter comes directly from the City of Medford Office of Energy and Environment, January 7, 2014.

The Mass DEP was notified of a release of diesel fuel from a tanker truck at the Erickson Fuel Company located at 600 Boston Ave in Medford on Monday, January 6, 2014.  The capacity of the tanker truck was 2,850 gallons. According to Erickson, the truck was holding 1,449 gallons of diesel fuel winter blend (which means that it was cut with Kerosene, which keeps the fuel liquid enough to pump).  It is reported that a flange at the bottom of the tank froze during the recent super cold weather. The release occurred when the flange thawed out on Sunday.  The fuel impacted Erickson’s truck yard and the city’s storm drainage system.  Mass DEP responded to the incident and Medford Fire, DPW and the Environment Office have also been on scene.   A Mass DEP spill trailer was dispatched from the Chelsea Fire Department and booms have been deployed to contain the oil.   Erickson has hired Ambrose Environmental and ENPRO Services. 

Oil flowed through the storm drains toward the Mystic River. The Mystic is frozen all the way to the Amelia Earhart dam. Dam personnel have not reported any odors at the dam, which is a good sign.  Pumping at the dam has ceased and will not resume until necessary or they are given the all-clear by ENPRO.   The DEP believes that most of the fuel got caught up in the drainage system and that it can be collected with current efforts.

ENPRO Services had three vacuum trucks on site and operational on Monday.  The first is located near the intersection of Routes 16 and 93 adjacent to the Mystic River. One is upgradient on Mystic Ave between Russo Marine and the Dialysis Center in Winter Brook.  A third is across from this location on the other side of Mystic Avenue.  A good deal of fuel is being reported at these locations so we’re hoping that our overall recovery will be good.

The parking lot cleanup at the Erickson facility is complete.  There is a school across the street from the Erickson facility (St. Clement), but it appears that the school was not affected in any way and it was unnecessary to interrupt school operations.

The DEP, ENPRO and representatives from the city performed a drain line assessment this morning to see if there are any pockets of fuel that can still be recovered.  There was a noticeable odor and a visible sheen in several of the drains.  Several manhole covers were removed to inspect the water as well and an odor and sheen was also noted.  ENPRO and the DEP are discussing the best cleanup method for the stormwater pipes.

The below freezing temperatures will slow down clean up work.  The boom maintenance will continue.  The pump trucks will not be heavily used until the temperatures increase.  The DEP feels as if the storm water lines will need to be flushed to remove residual oil, but this will also have to wait.  The feeling right now is that this work will be conducted this weekend.  ENPRO will be maintaining a presence and representatives from the DEP and the city will also be keeping an eye on things.  As long as there is floating product they are able to continue collection efforts. At the point that there is only a sheen on water, recovery efforts are no longer possible (sheens can not be collected with current technology).

Note that Erickson has accepted full responsibility for this and are paying directly for ENPRO’s services and for all disposable products used. DEP Emergency Services are part of the DEP operating budget.