Archive for Wednesday, May 2, 1990


May 2, 1990


Hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the Kansas River in East Lawrence and into a creek that runs into Perry Lake in two unrelated incidents, in which a fuel tank and a fuel truck were overfilled.

About 400 gallons of diesel fuel were spilled into the Kansas River in East Lawrence about 9 a.m. Monday when a Kaw Sand Company fuel truck was overfilled, said Marvin Glotzbach, a geologist for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's district office in Lawrence.

About 900 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into Slough Creek, which runs into Perry Lake, when a Leavenworth County Co-op Assn. fuel storage tank was overfilled about 3:30 a.m. Friday, Glotzbach said.

Both spills have been cleaned up by contractors who were called by the companies, said Glotzbach, who was at both sites to ensure the spills had been cleaned up.

HE SAID THE spills did not pose a danger to humans and had no visible impact on wildlife in the area.

However, he said, "There's always some environmental risk. That's why the cleanup occurred."

Glotzbach said that about 20 workers at the Slough Creek location had that spill cleaned up Tuesday. Slough Creek empties into Perry Lake about five miles from the spill location, he said.

About a dozen workers at the Kansas River location also had that spill cleaned up Tuesday, he said.

Glotzbach said workers at both sites were using equipment that soaks up the fuel.

"THEY WERE putting absorbent pads in the eddies of the river," he said.

"You can't get every drop, but you can get most of it," he said.

Eileen Koutelas, customer relations director at Water District No. 1 of Johnson County, said the utility company had to shut down a water intake valve located about 30 miles east of Lawrence on the Kansas River after Monday's spill.

The company serves about 250,000 residents in Johnson County with water it gets from the Kansas and Missouri rivers, Koutelas said.

She said the Kansas River water intake shutoff did not affect customers.

"If something like this had happened in the summer, it would have been a little more difficult to work around," she said.

The water intake valve was expected to be reopened today, Koutelas said.

DAVID PENNY, Lawrence city commissioner and owner of the Kaw Sand Company, 803 E. Eighth, said cleanup of the Kansas River spill cost him $15,000.

"The expense of the thing is outrageous," Penny said today. "But you have very little choice because we had to react quickly."

Penny said a newly hired employee was filling a fuel truck from a storage tank near the bank of the river when the employee "walked away."

"We have strict rules that you're not supposed to walk away from a refueling operation," he said. "Well, this guy did, and it started to overflow and go down into the river."

Penny said a maximum of 400 gallons overflowed from the fuel truck and ran into the river.

TIM BAILEY, branch manager of the Leavenworth Co-op Assn., said a fuel delivery "that wasn't supposed to be made" resulted in the Slough Creek spill.

"Our (storage) tank couldn't hold all of it, and it started to overflow," he said.

Bailey wouldn't reveal the cleanup cost of the Slough Creek spill.

John Horton, spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency's regional office in Kansas City, Kan., said it was unlikely that the Leavenworth Co-op Assn. or the Kaw Sand Company would be fined by the EPA.

"It's dependent upon the materials and the amount that was spilled, quite frankly," he said.

"A lot of times the company that was responsible for the spill will pay for it," he said.

Horton said the EPA would review reports filed by the KDHE to determine whether citations or fines should be assessed.

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