Fuel spill raises concerns

Times Union | May 19, 2015 | Column by Brian Nearing

A spill of either crude oil or diesel fuel at the Port of Albany on Tuesday did not pollute the Hudson River, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said.

A clean-up crew works on a fuel spill in the Port of Albany Tuesday morning. (Eric Anderson / Times Union)

Two workers at the Global Partners oil terminal, who had been pumping the liquid from one tank to another when a hose came loose, were sprayed with fuel, said city Fire Chief Warren Abriel. The men were cleaned off and taken to Albany Medical Center for observation, he said.

However, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said about 420 gallons of crude oil spilled in an area designed with an embankment to contain spills. There was minimal soil impact, and tainted soil will be excavated and properly disposed of, DEC added.

Mark Miller, of Miller Environmental Group, said workers used a vacuum truck to collect spilled fuel, and will dig away the top layer of impervious material that is standard design for oil tank containment areas. "This is not a long-term project at all," he said.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said the spill reinforced concerns over a request by Global to add a plant to heat crude oil to make it easier to ship during cold weather.

"Today's oil spill clearly demonstrates further review needs to be done before any permits for expansion are issued," said McCoy. "What if that oil had been Canadian tar sands (oil) and leaked into the Hudson River? That would have been disastrous."

McCoy and other opponents of crude oil train shipments into the port continue to call for DEC to conduct a full environmental study before making any decision on the crude heating project.

Global Partners did not specify if the spill was crude or diesel, but indicated a leak involved "a temporary, portable, 20,000-gallon, above-ground tank used in the performance of routine maintenance activities," according to a statement. A cleanup crew from the Albany location of Miller Environmental Group was called to perform a cleanup.

The Global statement did not indicate the status of the two workers who were doused with diesel or crude, and Abriel said he did not have an update on their conditions.

bnearing@timesunion.com • 518-454-5094 • @Bnearing10

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PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.