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Jet fuel spilled cleaned at Freeman Holdings Fuel Farm

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 5:20 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Hazmat and environmental crews headed back out Friday to finish cleaning up a fuel spill at Forbes Field.

About 1,000 gallons of jet fuel spilled at the Freeman Holdings Fuel Farm Thursday around 5 p.m.

Walt Frederick, General Manager of ‘Million Air’, told 13 News a valve was put into an incorrect spot causing a tanker truck to send fuel into the wrong tank, and it overflowed.

The spill happened at the freeman holdings fuel farm. Frederick said crews left around 12:30 a.m. after picking up the fuel, containing it in hazardous bags and moving it away from the fuel farm area.

Topeka Fire Department Officer Alan Stahl was among those helping clean up Thursday night.

“Anytime we get a call from an agency like that, especially one’s that an airport, asking us to standby for a jet fuel spill, that definitely perks our attention up quite a bit,” he said.

Frederick said, “I think we’re going to go in with this enzyme that actually eats hydrocarbons or fuel and we’re going to spray the whole area just in case there’s any lingering around anywhere and it will go into the soil and eat any of that may be out around that we didn’t detect, so, it’s pretty much done.”

Shawnee Heights Fire District, 190th Air Refueling Wing Fire Dept., TFD, Kansas Fire Marshal’s office, and Shawnee Co. Emergency Mgt. all responded. Hazmat response incorporated of Olathe and Evergy’s Lawrence plant also assisted.

TFD sent trained hazmat crews who usually work on Aerial-8 and Engine-8, putting them out of regular service.

“We’re pretty good at adjustment on the fly, it comes and goes with the territory but it is a big deal for our guys so they’ll have to move their personal protective equipment, they’re fire gear from one unit to another really quickly,” said Stahl.

Frederick said no bodies of water or sewer systems are near the fuel storage area. Stahl said spilled fuel still poses a fire danger, and could lead to environmental damage as it seeps through the soil.

“Even pouring a gallon of jet fuel into any type of water source can contaminate millions of gallons of water,” he said. “Whether that be groundwater or surface water so, we’re very concerned about how that stuff is moving. Is it leaching through the soil, are we hitting storm drains or sewers or underground pipes.”

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