Diesel fuel accident at utility district office | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Diesel fuel accident at utility district office

Somewhere between 10 and 100 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto the ground outside the South Tahoe Public Utility District office Wednesday.

A fuel truck was filling a STPUD underground storage tank when an overfill occurred, spilling diesel fuel onto the ground.

Dawn Forsythe, STPUD information officer, said officials believe a failed calibration occurred, meaning the fuel truck’s computer system detected more room in the tank than was actually available.

The truck’s system indicates about 10 gallons were spilled, Forsythe said.

However, STPUD officials examined the contamination and estimate the release to be more like 50 to 100 gallons, she said.

Compounds such as benzene and toluene, which have known health risks, are present in diesel fuel but at significantly lower levels than gasoline, according to the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. MTBE is not used in diesel fuel.

Diesel is “less mobile” in the ground than gasoline, according to Lahontan, but diesel contamination does have the potential of reaching groundwater.

STPUD officials excavated the site Wednesday, and the utility district plans to monitor for further contamination. Lahontan and El Dorado County Environmental Management have been notified.

STPUD keeps the diesel fuel to operate back-up generators in case of a power failure.

Owners of underground storage tanks throughout the country were required by law to upgrade their tanks last month. STPUD, which has closed numerous wells because of gasoline plumes from leaking underground storage tank systems in South Shore, obtained approval from the county.

“Everything had just been checked out. Everything was certified by the county within the last month,” Forsythe said. “The point of (the situation) is you can do everything you’re supposed to do – accidents still happen.”

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