Report details diesel spill at RLUOB

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Lab > Roughly 350 gallons escaped from tank

By John Severance

The Los Alamos National Laboratory recently submitted a report to the New Mexico Environment Department, detailing a diesel spill outside the Radiological Laboratory/Utility Office Building that occurred Jan. 22.

According to the lab, about 350 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from piping connected to an above ground storage tank located outside the RLUOB.

A statement from the lab said, “We shut the tank system down and immediately removed approximately 5 cubic yards of impacted soil,” said Tony Grieggs, manager with the laboratory’s Environment Safety and Health organization. “We also measured the air around the tank, as well as the basement of the RLUOB, to make sure no diesel vapors were in the air inside or outside of the building.

“We’re continuing our investigation to determine the extent of the impact on the soil. In addition, the tank manufacturer is going to address the issue with the pipe fitting and re-check the equipment to make sure it is working properly before we bring the tank system back online.”

According to a 14-day report that was submitted to NMED by Feb. 8, LANL representatives discovered the presence of a diesel spill from an aboveground storage tank system at Technical Area 55. The 12,000-gallon AST system is used for the RLUOB emergency generator.

The spill was reported by telephone to NMED’s Petroleum Storage Tank Bureau that same day and within 24 hours of discovery and a report was submitted the following day.

Other items gleaned from the report:

• There were no private or public water supply wells within a mile perimeter of the release site.

• There were no water supplies contaminated by the release. The depth to ground water at the site is estimated to be about 1,300 feet.

• Groundwater at the site flows towards the east- southeast.

• Emergency response team was immediately contacted after spill discovery; the AST system was shut down, valves were closed and electrical power to AST system was turned off; spilled product in sumps was pumped out; excavation of diesel-contaminated soil was initiated.

• Vapor monitoring was conducted in the adjacent buildings, TA-55-400 and TA-55-440 and around the AST using a photoionization meter and a Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) meter. No detectable vapors were found.

• The site was quickly secured by HAZMAT personnel and only authorized persons were allowed near the spill site. Explosive and/or harmful vapors were not deemed to be a threat. Product in sumps was removed and five yards of contaminated soil was initially removed.  Additional soil will be excavated and removed from the site.

• The report stated that LANL Emergency Response personnel with fire trucks and the LANL HAZMAT team were onsite within minutes after reporting of the spill.

• The tank stores diesel fuel and was installed in April 2012 and first received fuel in July 2012. There have been no previous tanks at the RLUOB building site.

Back in June, the RLUOB achieved both the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status and LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The RLUOB was the first part of the CMRR project. The nuclear facility part of the project has been deferred five years by the Obama administration.

According to the lab website, the RLUOB contains laboratories for analytical chemistry and materials characterization of special nuclear material, along with space for offices, training and emergency operations.