3,100 Gallons of Fuel Leak from South Carolina Wastewater Plant

Aug. 19, 2020

3,100 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from broken line at a Charleston wastewater plant

A failed pump control sent more than 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaking from a generator at the Plum Island Wastewater Treatment Plant on James Island.

Some of the diesel fuel seeped into the surrounding marsh, according to the Post and Courier.

According to Charleston Water System spokesman Mike Saia, wastewater workers noticed the leak early in the morning and called in reinforcements to begin cleaning the spill. Approximately 20% of the fuel trickled into the marsh and 1% percent of the diesel remains there.

Contractors began work at 9 a.m. to begin the cleaning process. According to Saia, it is expected to take about a week, reported the Post and Courier. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Coast Guard were at the scene by the afternoon. The system also notified the U.S. EPA.

Employees documented over 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel missing from the backup generator where the pump control failed.

According to Andrew Wunderley of Charleston Waterkeeper, even though some fuel stayed on land, floodwater and high tides could wash it down to the marshes, affecting native wildlife.

“It’s hard to know exactly what’s going to happen because it’s so dynamic,” said Wunderley. “The marsh in that area doesn’t look healthy; it’s bare, brown, kind of thin...but hopefully it’ll be quick. Hopefully the cleanup is thorough.”

Operations at the system’s main wastewater treatment plant have not been impacted, Saia added. 

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Cristina Tuser

Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).
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