Officials: no harm from diesel spilled into Clear Creek

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Hundreds of gallons ran into creek Friday

By Lisa King

No serious consequences are expected after hundreds of gallons of diesel spilled into Clear Creek on Friday morning, officials say

The accident happened on the grounds of Martinrea Heavy Stamping on Old Brunerstown Road. Martinrea Plant Manager Shawn Addlesburger said the spill occurred when employees were filling a portable generator with fuel and the tank ran over.

“We were putting diesel into the portable generator and the overflow switch did not stop, so we had an accidental spill of diesel fuel that occurred Friday morning,” he said.

About 500 gallons spilled, but Addlesburger said that was not a significant amount.

“The spill itself was quite minor, but due to the rain we had that morning, some of the fuel actually made its way to a storm drain,” he said.

The diesel tank that supplies the fuel to the generator holds 1,000 gallons, but the generator itself is much smaller.

Addlesburger said he immediately called in local and state authorities to determine what needed to be done.

Shelby County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Whitman said environmental crews are in the process of cleaning up the creek, adding that he contacted state officials and asked them to send out an inspector from the Kentucky State Division of Water to access the situation, as well as officials at the Shelbyville Municipal Water and Sewer. Whitman said the latter told him the spill would not affect either drinking water or sewer systems.

“It did not get into the sanitary sewer system,” said Tom Doyle, manager of Shelbyville Municipal Water and Sewer. “The drinking water is completely on the other side of town at Guist Creek. This was in the drainage basin of Clear Creek.”

Doyle said he was part of the team that responded to the situation early Friday morning at the plant.

“It’s just precautionary anytime anything hits the ground,” he said.

At the site Tuesday, Martinrea Supervisor Cordell Brackett said that state officials had checked the creek and did not find any evidence of a fish kill.

“We saw plenty of live fish and crawdads swimming around normally,” he said. “That was one thing the division of water checked.”

He said no other harmful elements had been detected from the spill.

“It was not enough to create an environmental hazard,” he said. “Hydrocarbons stay on top of the water, so ground water was not affected.”

Raymond Williams, project supervisor with Evergreen AES, the company that Martinrea hired to clean up the spill, watched as his crews continued to scoop up huge loads of dirt from the site.

“Right now we’re removing the contaminated soil,” he said. “We have removed fifteen truckloads so far.”

Williams said each load is approximately 20 tons.

Brackett said the contaminated soil would be taken to a landfill in Trimble County, and added that the cost of the spill has not yet been determined.

Ken Abell, human resources director for Martinrea, said Friday’s accident was the first of its kind at the plant.

“We’ve been since nineteen-eighty eight and nothing like this has ever happened before,” he said.

Addlesburger said now plant officials are in the process of making sure it never happens again.

“We’ve put some new procedures and systems in place to make sure that when we’re fueling, we have it manned until the tank is full, rather than relying on the overfill sensor,” he said. “Also, that unit should only be in place a couple of more weeks until we have our permanent generator back on site.”