TCEQ investigating Friday's diesel spill near Donnybrook Avenue

Published on Monday, 17 July 2017 17:49 - Written by FAITH HARPER, fharper@tylerpaper.com

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is investigating what entity is responsible for Friday’s leak of diesel into a creek.

The spill likely happened while a large generator with a fuel tank at Texas Spine and Joint Hospital, 814 Roseland Blvd., was being serviced by a third-party.

Original estimates were that 650 gallons of diesel leaked into the storm water system, and then into the creek. On Monday TCEQ brought that estimate up to 700 gallons.

Hospitals are required to have generators, and they also are required to have periodic maintenance, said Paul Findley, public information officer for the Tyler Fire Department.

The spill was contained on Friday, and cleanup was completed by Lone Star Hazmat on Monday, according to a statement from TCEQ.

“The TCEQ’s investigation is ongoing,” the statement read. “Part of TCEQ’s investigation will be to determine the appropriate party responsible for the spill. However, generally, the owner of a property would ultimately be responsible for any cleanup.”

The spill happened sometime before 3 a.m. Friday due to a fueling company attempting to clean and recirculate the generator’s 5,000-gallon diesel tank, Findley said. The fuel is filtered, cleaned and put back into the machine.

There is a safety mechanism in place in case something goes wrong that is designed to catch 80 percent of the fuel, giving the possibility that 20 percent leaked out.

The Tyler Fire Department was called to the area around Front Street and Douglas Boulevard, north of the Midtown District about 3:20 a.m., Findley, said.

Firefighters noticed the area smelled like gasoline and there was a sheen on a nearby creek.

The team followed the sheen to see how far it had gone, eventually stopping near the intersection of High Street and East Erwin Street, where crews placed absorbing materials in the creek to catch any fuel, which floats on top of the water.

It was eventually traced back to the hospital.

Twitter: @TMTFaith