Oil Spill Tarnishes Underground Brook During Routine Oil Delivery; DEP Supervises Clean-up
A Chestnut Street home was the site of a spill that released oil into a drain pipe leading to an underground portion of Harry's Brook.
According to Fire Prevention Inspector Steve Webb, the single-family home was receiving an oil delivery on March 3 from the Lawrence Oil Service when the attendant realized that he had pumped 348 gallons of oil into a tank that has a capacity of 245 gallons.
The cause of the overflow was a split in the interior above-ground tank, Mr. Webb said, subsequently dumping 348 gallons into the basement of the house.
The resident's sump pump then began expelling the oil onto the driveway as it would in a flood, sending the oil into the storm sewer which connects with Harry's Brook.
Engine Company No.1, which is across the street from the residence, was first to respond to the spill. The driver of the truck had already put down absorbent pads to collect the oil that had not yet escaped.
"We didn't really see anything in the storm drains in front of the house," Mr. Webb said, "but then when we checked where [the brook daylights] at Hamilton and Harrison, we started getting a sheen of oil, [and] we started to see a discoloration [or] 'rainbow' effect on the surface of the water."
The Fire Department crew placed absorbent barriers in the brook at Hamilton and Harrison, and a secondary partition where the brook passes Snowden Lane.
Mr. Webb said approximately 98 to 99 percent of the oil was stopped at the Harrison/Hamilton location. The Fire Department then contacted the state Department of Environment Protection (DEP) to report a "substantial spill."
The DEP was originally notified by Lawrence of the spill, but the oil delivery service could not foresee the magnitude of the accident, Mr. Webb said. The DEP did not take over the clean-up until the Fire Department outlined the severity of the spill.
The Fire Department used a truck from its fleet to flush the storm sewer, and a clean-up crew, Lewis Environment, vacuumed the water out of the brook.
Mr. Webb lauded the efficacy of the clean-up process. Having undergone such an extensive cleaning, he said the brook is "the cleanest it's been in a long time."
Ted Cashel, coordinator of the Princeton Township Office of Emergency Management, said no damage was done to the brook where it runs above-ground in the Township.