Through the review of public records after receiving an anonymous tip, Tallahassee Reports has learned that there was a major diesel fuel spill from an above ground storage tank at the Hopkins Generating power plant that, until now, has not been publicly reported.
The spill, which happened in 2012, resulted in thousands of gallons of diesel fuel being discharged. And while there is no acknowledgement of the exact magnitude of the spill, reports indicate that at least 600,000 gallons of diesel fuel is unaccounted for.
Records also show that the City of Tallahassee (COT) is still engaged with the Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) with regards to the clean-up.
In addition, TR has confirmed that hundreds of thousands of tax dollars have been spent on legal action and clean-up expenses.
TR can find no public discussion by elected officials about the spill and a search has found no local media coverage of the accident.
How could such an event be missed by the local media?
Why was a public advisory not released by the FDEP or the COT?
Who made the decision not to notify the public about this major accident?
How can tax dollars be spent on clean up and legal action without input from elected officials?
Which elected officials knew about the accident?
These are all questions TR will seek to answer in a series of reports, but first, the accident and the aftermath.
TR has obtained a copy of two reports provided by ARCADIS, the company hired by COT to provide an assessment and ultimately clean-up the spill.
The first report was called an Interim Remedial Action Plan and was dated March 27, 2012.
The second report was called the Site Assessment Report and dated October 8th, 2012.
A review of the reports paint a detailed picture of the accident.
On January 19, 2012, the City of Tallahassee notified Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Leon County representatives that a sheen of red-dyed diesel was observed in the discharge canal along the southern side of the Hopkins Generating Station.
This discharge canal flows off site at the southwestern corner of the facility and ultimately flows into the Ochlockonee River.
An investigation undertaken by the COT, with oversight from the County and FDEP, led to the discovery of an apparent leakage from the 7.56-million-gallon above-ground storage tank for diesel fuel.
At the time of discharge discovery, it was estimated that approximately 3 million gallons of diesel fuel was present in the tank.
Emergency-response activities commenced immediately and for approximately two weeks, subsequent to initial discovery, three trucking companies operated continuously to remove diesel fuel from the tank.
The diesel fuel was transferred to other storage tanks at the facility and a large storage tank located at the COT’s Purdom power plant located in St. Marks, Florida. Diesel fuel removal was completed on February 6, 2012.
The reports indicates that approximately 2.4 million gallons of the 3 million gallons of diesel fuel was transferred from the fuel storage tank.
How Much Fuel Spilled?
While the report states the volume of the discharge of diesel fuel from the tank is unknown, one obvious issue not addressed in the report is what happened to the 600,000 gallons of diesel fuel not accounted for after the emergency removal activities, which lasted two weeks.
On January 30, 2012, ARCADIS -after meeting with COT and FDEP – began a preliminary site assessment which included installing a number of temporary monitoring and product recovery wells.
On February 9, 2012, it was reported that diesel fuel was detected in 17 temporary monitoring wells. Based on the data, the report estimated that diesel fuel occupied an area of 47,432 square feet with an average thickness was 0.5 foot.
Also, ARCADIS estimated that up to 32,000 gallons of diesel fuel was located beneath the site and the mass of “product” was estimated to be 227,000 pounds.
However, these estimates did not take into account the portion of the spill that dissolved and/or was absorbed by the soil above the ground water table.
The recovery efforts ceased on July 20, 2012.
In the October report, ARCADIS stated approximately 270,396 gallons of affected water and more than 7 million cubic meters of petroleum-affected soil vapors had been removed from the site.
An estimated 782 gallons of diesel fuel, 250 pounds of dissolved-phase petroleum constituents, and 144 pounds of vapor-phase petroleum hydrocarbons were extracted.
Since July 20th, 2012 the COT has provided monitoring information gathered from wells at the Hopkins Generating Station to the FDEP.
As of March 2017, TR has learned that the City of Tallahassee has provided documents to FDEP to justify that no further action is required at the site.
The Next Report
TR is in the process of investigating if elected officials knew about the fuel spill.
TR has submitted a public record request seeking the total cost of the accident.
TR will also try to determine if any regulatory body had the responsibility of notifying the public about the accident.