Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fuel leaks at Northern Colorado Regional Airport (KFNL): Crews contain 1,000 gallons from spreading

Kathryn's Report:

Emergency crews used "lots and lots of kitty litter" and absorbent pads to prevent as much as 1,000 gallons of jet fuel from spreading off concrete at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport on Saturday, said Ned Sparks, division chief with Loveland Fire Rescue Authority.

The leak from a tanker truck was discovered and emergency crews were called at about 7:25 a.m. Various health and safety agencies remained on scene for hours before cleanup started just before 1 p.m.

"It's just a little bit of a mess, but we're doing out best to follow the rules and clean it up the best we can," said Jason Licon, airport director. "We have full confidence it'll be cleaned up (Saturday)."

A worker using a tanker truck to fill the fuel tanks on airplanes Saturday morning noticed that jet fuel was leaking out of the truck onto the pavement, Sparks said. He called for help, and crews from several agencies responded.

First, crews tried to turn off the valve, but that didn't work, so plan B was to bring in another tanker truck and transfer the fuel into that empty tank, explained Loveland Fire Rescue Authority Capt. Eric Klaas, who was the incident commander on scene. That process took several hours, and the actual cleanup began about 1 p.m.

A faulty valve is believed to be the cause of the leak, which spilled fuel onto a concrete area at the airport. Estimates of the leak ranged from 600 to 1,000 gallons.

Emergency crews from Loveland Fire Rescue Authority and Poudre Fire Authority used absorbent pads and four 55-gallon drums of kitty litter to contain the spill on the pavement and prevent it from spreading to nearby dirt, according to Sparks.

Officials called for a remediation company to clean up the fuel.

Meanwhile, emergency crews and health experts with the city of Loveland and Larimer County Department of Health and Environment were monitoring the situation.

The risks were the potential of the fuel catching fire and spreading to nearby dirt, and then leaching into the soil and potentially the groundwater, noted Darrick Turner, senior environmental specialist with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.

"It's a flammable substance," Turner said. "When you have it in an uncontained state, we're a little nervous about that."

However, the amount was relatively small and crews were able to keep it contained without any major health issues, officials said.

Crews on scene were from Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Poudre Fire Authority, Windsor Fire, Loveland Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, city of Loveland, Northern Colorado Regional Airport, Larimer County Deparment of Health and Environmental and Thompson Valley Emergency Medical Services.

Because the fuel was contained to a concrete area, Licon does not anticipate any lasting or long-term damage to the airport. The airport was able to open throughout the cleanup with only the jet center closed.

"We're still operating," Licon said just after noon on Saturday. "Aircraft are flying as we speak."


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