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Posted on April 11, 2017
Tallahassee Reports has learned that a City of Tallahassee employee knew about the major fuel spill at the Hopkins Generating Station, but failed to alert City Commissioners about the spill during a public meeting while discussing contracts for companies to cleanup potential “spills of hazardous materials.”
The discussion took place on February 8, 2012 during a regular city commission meeting, approximately three weeks after the fuel leak was detected at Hopkins Generating Station.
You can read about the details of the spill here.
The discussion was prompted by City Commissioner Gil Ziffer when he “expressed concern with the vague nature” of a recommendation which involved approving continuing service contracts to a group of vendors for environmental services.
The employee was John Powell, who was listed as the Environmental Regulatory Compliance Administrator for the Environmental Policy and Energy Resources Department of the City of Tallahassee.
Mr. Powell responded to Mr. Ziffer by saying “the continuing service contracts were needed to enable rapid response to certain unexpected events, such as spills of hazardous materials.”
There was no mention of the fuel spill at the Hopkins Generating Station.
The minutes of the meeting can be read here.
Mr. Powell added that “the award of a contract was in no way a guarantee any of the firms would receive work.”
However, one of the firms listed in the agenda item, ARCADIS, was on-site at the Hopkins Generating Station performing clean-up work as Mr. Powell was talking to city commissioners.
Is there evidence that Mr. Powell knew about the spill and that ARCADIS was working at the Hopkins site during the time of his appearance at the city commission meeting?
TR has recovered several emails that indicate Mr. Powell was one of the City’s contacts with ARCADIS and the FDEP with regards to the fuel spill.
In the email below, Joe Applegate of ARCADIS sends Mr. Powell an update on the fuel spill at Hopkins on January 31, 2012. This is eight days before Mr. Powell’s appearance at the February 8th, 2012 city commission meeting.
Mr. Applegate informed Mr. Powell that “ARCADIS personnel mobilized to the Hopkins Facility at 08:00 on 1/30/12 and met with the Facility Manager and received Facility Health and Safety guidelines and training.”
Click on email to enlarge.
Through a review of emails, it appears Mr. Powell has been involved with the clean-up of the Hopkins Generating Station site from 2012 to 2016.
TR’s attempt to contact Mr. Powell was unsuccessful.
TR is still in the process of talking to the elected officials and trying to determine if they were aware of the fuel spill.
On another front, TR has confirmed that the City of Tallahassee did file a lawsuit against a vendor the city thought was responsible for the fuel leak. We will have a report on the lawsuit tomorrow.
And finally, TR has a number of outstanding information requests with the City of Tallahassee with regards to the fuel spill.