Major Fuel Spill at City’s Hopkins Generating Station Hidden from Public View

Major Fuel Spill at City’s Hopkins Generating Station Hidden from Public View

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.

The Accident

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.

Monitoring Wells at Hopkins Generating Station, 2017

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.

14 Responses to "Major Fuel Spill at City’s Hopkins Generating Station Hidden from Public View"

  1. Leave Yordon alone. At least he is factual, evidential and reports the truth. Throw you fuel loaded dirt on someone else. I’ve listened to Gary Gordon many times and he says it like it is, so yeah a duck floated.

  2. Our child-mayor really should find another line of work. As much time as he spends on the links–perhaps as a caddy?

    Really, this is the Capitol of the State. To have someone as mayor who is this inept or underhanded is appalling.

  3. Thank you for reporting this. How about checking into the water quality that is provided bt the City of Tallahassee to residents of St. Marks and north of there. We get that water and it has a horrible taste and soluds around 260. We have to buy bottled water to drink. Thanks!

  4. But, the city pays Gary Yordon, Nancy Miller’s campaign manager, to make ads of a rubber ducky floating down the road. I guess this is this commission’s extent of their expertise and service to the taxpayers for keeping our city utilities and water safe.

  5. Another reason government should not own and manage utilities. Government will instinctively cover up everything that makes them look incompetent or corrupt. Just imagine if this was FPL or Duke, what a thrashing they would have received…from the media AND government.

    I say it’s time we sell “Your Own Utilities” to a well managed utility and let the professionals do what they do best. We would probably have lower utility bills, and at the very least they would be held accountable.

  6. “Most importantly, we are putting even more emphasis on investigative work, including watchdog issues and holding public officials accountable, with extra emphasis on Sundays.”
    -Bob Gabordi, 2/17/14, in his blahg.


    February 8,2012 – meeting summary

    Item 7 – (pulled at the request of Commissioner Ziffer) Voted 5-0 to approve the
    recommendation of the selection committee for RFQ 0093-11-TJ-RC and authorize the City
    Manager to execute contracts with eight selected firms for the purpose of obtaining
    Environmental Consulting Services to assist City facilities and operations in compliance matters.
    (Recommended by Environmental Policy & Energy Resources)
    Commissioner Ziffer expressed concern with the vague nature of the recommendation. Mr.
    John Powell, Environmental Regulatory Compliance Administrator, Environmental Policy &
    Energy Resources, responded to Commissioner Ziffer’s questions relative to the item. Mr.
    Powell indicated the continuing service contracts were needed to enable rapid response to
    certain unexpected events, such as spills of hazardous materials; the contracts would renew or
    reinstitute previously-awarded contracts. Mr. Powell noted that the costs for single events are
    usually minor – a few thousand dollars. Mr. Powell further clarified that the award of a contract
    was in no way a guarantee any of the firms would receive work.
    Commissioner Miller also expressed concern with the potential that a single firm would receive
    more work than other firms. Commissioner Miller indicated her preference that work be
    distributed equitably and that a single vendor was not used with greater frequency than others.
    Commissioner Miller further indicated that individual departments should have latitude in
    selecting which vendor to utilize on projects under their purview.
    The selected firms are:
    Arcadis U.S., Inc.
    Camp Dresser & McKee Inc. (CDM)
    Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.
    TBE Group (d/b/a Cardno TBE)
    Tetra Tech
    URS Corporation
    WRS Infrastructure & Environment, Inc. (d/b/a WRS Compass)
    AMEC E&I, INC.
    Continuing Service Agreements
    Commissioner Miller expressed concerns with the concept of awarding continuing service
    agreements. Commissioner Miller noted the downturn in the economy has resulted in many
    firms vigorously competing for work; the City is one of the largest sources of local contract work.
    Due to this, Commissioner Miller expressed concern that continuing service contracts had the
    effect of precluding firms who haven’t performed City work in the past from competing for future
    work. With the recent focus on local businesses and boosting the local economy,
    Commissioner Miller suggested this practice be reevaluated. By consensus, the Commission
    referred these concerns to the Economic Development Target Issue Committee for
    further review.

  8. It is beyond belief that no member of the city commission knew about the spill. TR must find out which connissioners knew and let them answer to the citizens for their part in the coverup.
    If no commissioners knew about it, let them deal with city staff for not informing them and then tell the voters what disciplinary action was taken.

  9. Thank God for Tallahassee Reports! How is it possible that something like this happens and all the people involved are able to cover it up?!? Makes you wonder what else we don’t know.

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