Update:1,000 Gallons Of Fuel Oil Spill In North Grafton

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Approximately 1,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled down a wooded embankment Sunday at 88 Westborough Road.
Approximately 1,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled down a wooded embankment Sunday at 88 Westborough Road. Photo Credit: Richard Price

GRAFTON, Mass. — Approximately 1,000 gallons of heating oil spilled on the property of a North Grafton truck leasing company Sunday morning sending the fuel down an embankment where it pooled in a small pond.

The accident occurred at Suttles Truck Leasing, a chemical carrier at 88 Westborough Road owned by the Dana Companies. 

“The release was reported as soon as it was discovered," George Criswell, Suttles' terminal manager, said in a press statement. "The cause of the unintentional release remains under investigation.”

The accident occurred on a lot overlooking the pond, said Edmund Colletta, Jr. a director from the Office of Public Affairs at the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection. He said a temporary mobile heater was set up on Sunday, when oil being fed from a tanker truck with a manually controlled pump was left on, overfilling the heater's tank and sending the fuel to run down the embankment and into a "finger pond".   

Colletta said there was no containment set up around the furnace to catch the overflow. 

The pond, said Colletta, is about 20 feet wide and 300 feet long and leads to a stream that connects to a town drinking water source about a mile away.

He said the town well was shut off for maintenance before the accident occurred so there was no immediate danger of polluting the drinking water. “As far as we can tell, no oil got down that far," Colletta said. 

He also said Suttles Truck Leasing  put down booms, absorbents,  sand bags, and an oil water separator at the channel near the end of the pond. “They did quite a bit to contain it," he said.

 New England Disposal Technologies, based in Sutton, was hired to clean up the spill who were observed on-site Wednesday afternoon from Westborough Road.

 Colleta said most of the oil  is under the ice which the clean up crew  have to break up to get at it and then use a vacuum hose.

He also said a member of the DEP is visiting the site daily to gauge the progress but added that the clean-up might take a few weeks because of the ice and a snowstorm in the forecast. 

“All available resources are being utilized at this time," said Michael Polselli, Suttles' New England Region manager in the press statement.  "We are committed to site remediation and restoration.”

Colleta said the Mass DEP is not considering fines currently but will review the possibility in the future.  

This is not the first accident on the company site. In April 2011, a worker from the Dana Companies accidentally mixed nitric acid with waste water  sending a vapor cloud of gas into the air which forced the evacuation of North Grafton Elementary School and a partial shutdown of Route 30. 

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Comments (9)

I remember reading somewhere that Captain Hazelton was leaving Alaska and moving to Massachusetts.

I do not agree this is an accident. Accidents are defined as unforeseeable events. I suspect this facility handles enough oil to be required to have a Spill Prevention and Countermeasure Control plan (SPCC). This is because it is known that folks who handle large quantities of oil occasionally have spills. If the SPCC plan was followed they should have evaluated this source when they set it up and put some sort of spill prevention barriers or controls in place. Clearly they never should have allowed the filling to be done by a manual pump without oversight. I would wager that it was cold and whoever was supposed to be providing the oversight was siting somewhere warm. It happens all the time.

I do not agree this is an accident. Accidents are defined as unforeseeable events. I suspect this facility handles enough oil to be required to have a Spill Prevention and Countermeasure Control plan (SPCC). This is because it is known that folks who handle large quantities of oil occasionally have spills. If the SPCC plan was followed they should have evaluated this source when they set it up and put some sort of spill prevention barriers or controls in place. Clearly they never should have allowed the filling to be done by a manual pump without oversight. I would wager that it was cold and whoever was supposed to be providing the oversight was siting somewhere warm. It happens all the time.

Exactly. Accidents happen. No amount of rules or regulations thwart human error, or in this case, stupidity. Keep this in mind for the propane transfer facility, where the risks and costs will be immense for such lapses. But it's all good...there will be oversight, just like at Suttles, of course. Therefore, no need to even think about it.

And
always embrace things, people earth
sky stars, as I do, freely and with
the appropriate sense of space.

Accidents happen. Luckily it wasn't nearly as large as the proposed site near the railroad.

Accidents happen... hopefully the ground underneath the spill is frozen.
I'm sure all the stakeholders want a good outcome.

Isn't this the second time in less than two years that company has had an accident? What kind of accountability do they have over there?