How To Clean Up Over 150 Gallons of Diesel - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

5/14/08 - Nacogdoches

How To Clean Up Over 150 Gallons of Diesel

by Donna McCollum

The discovery Tuesday afternoon of more than 150 gallons of diesel coming through a storm drain immediately concerned workers at the Piney Woods Native Plant Center. The center's education coordinator, Elyce Rodewald said,  " Such as safety concerns for the people in the area and then, of course, the water quality and what the diesel would do to the plant material. "

Quickly Raguet Street became the unlikely location for a haz mat command center. A couple of blocks away diesel fuel escaped when a hose malfunctioned during the refueling of a diesel tank. A sudden rain storm sent the fuel down hill. Program manager Richard Lenius with DIS haz mat team explained,  " We're using a product called activated peat-sorb that absorbs the diesel fuel and takes the hydrocarbon and breaks it down. And then we have guys that are here using screens picking it up and manually picking it up and what we'll do is dispose it at a disposal facility that can handle this type of waste. " The method worked. The fuel was absorbed. This time the rain was a help, not a hinderer. As thunder rumbled behind him Lenius said,  " Weather is going to assist us in pushing any trapped diesel that's trapped up behind any of these logs, stumps, things like that and it's going to push it down to us so we can pick it up. " During the entire cleanup process Lenius remained in contact with the Texas Commission On Environmental Quality.

Environmentalists are breathing easier in a couple of ways. The diesel smell is going away and the damage to plants and habitat is minimal. Rodewald said,  " We're like a little oasis in the middle of nacogdoches that we're lucky to have. "  The center has native plants, trees, bird habitat and two miles of accessible trail. There's good reasons to want to take care of it. Now the environmental educator is re-writing her lesson plan for a group of children she'll teach tomorrow. Rodewald said,  " We teach a lot about the importance of water sheds and the importance of knowing that whatever you put on the ground it's going to end up downstream, so this is the perfect example of that. "

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