Fulton crews clean up 25 gallons of gas spilled at Break Time

Christine Finnell uses an oderizer to check for the level of gasoline fumes in the storm water drain near Break Time at Fourth Street and Westminster Avenue. On Tuesday morning, an operator filling the gas tanks removed a hose while fuel was still in it, spilling about 25 gallons into the parking lot, according to the Fulton Fire Department.

Christine Finnell uses an oderizer to check for the level of gasoline fumes in the storm water drain near Break Time at Fourth Street and Westminster Avenue. On Tuesday morning, an operator filling the gas tanks removed a hose while fuel was still in it, spilling about 25 gallons into the parking lot, according to the Fulton Fire Department. Kevin M. Smith

Fulton firefighters and city of Fulton employees cleaned up about 25 gallons of gasoline, flushing 10,000 gallons of water through the storm water drainage system after a spill Tuesday morning at Break Time at Fourth Street and Westminster Avenue.

Fulton Fire Department received a call about the spill at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to Todd Gray, engineer with the fire department.

An operator for Midland Transports of Jefferson City was filling the underground fuel tanks at the gas station and convenience store when a hose that still had fuel in it became unhooked, causing up to 25 gallons to spill onto the parking lot.

“There’s a fitting he hooks to and that fitting came off,” Thomas G. Kolb, president of of Midland Transports, told the Fulton Sun.

Kolb said that either the fitting is bad or was not put on tight enough and when the truck driver apparently tripped, it knocked the fitting off. Kolb said the gasoline flows at about 2.5 gallons per second out of the hose.

“He was right there with it … it didn’t take him 10 seconds to get to the valve,” Kolb said, noting the spill may have been closer to 15 gallons but they estimated on the high end.

Kolb said the procedure is to clear the area and contain the spill.

“The goal is to keep it from getting to a storm drain … from leaving the premises,” Kolb said.

According to Gray, the operator grabbed a garden hose at the gas station and sprayed the gasoline with water.

“That’s where we had the issue,” Gray said.

The water pushed the gasoline into the storm drains, according to Gray.

Gray said procedure should be to use “Oil Dry” — a sand- or cat-litter-like substance that Break Time has on site to absorb fuel spills. Gray said had that been used on the gasoline spill, it could have been just scooped up to dispose of properly and the fumes would quickly evaporate.

Instead, the city flushed 10,000 gallons of water through the storm drains and the fire department used an additional 1,000 gallons to clean the parking lot and flush the drains.

Kolb said every truck is equipped with a spill clean-up kit that includes absorbent pads and the Oil Dry product. Kolb said the pads are for small spill — not up to 25 gallons — and the absorbant grain works better for oil. Kolb said he was not aware that the driver had used the garden hose.

Crews were wrapping up this process about 1:15 p.m. At that point, an odorizer detected 20 parts per million, according to Gray. He said that’s on the low end and probably not ignitable. At 50 parts per million, a passerby with a lit cigarette could spark a fire, Gray said. The odorizer “sniffs for gas,” according to city of Fulton employee Christine Finnell, who was using it by poking it down the storm drains east of Break Time.

“The fumes with gasoline is what you’ve got to be worried about,” Gray said.

Kolb said his company is required to notify the Missouri Department of Natural Resources if 45 gallons or more are spilled, but not for the amount spilled today.

The Break Time manager on duty at the time of the incident said she was not allowed to talk to news media. The Fulton Sun left contact information for that manager’s supervisor, who did not contact the Sun.

Gray said it wasn’t the only spill Tuesday. He said the city of Fulton accidentally spilled several gallons of paint as crews were re-striping crosswalk lines.

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