UC Berkeley building reopens after diesel spill

December 12, 2011 7:55:02 AM PST
Stanley Hall on the UC Berkeley campus has reopened after it was the source of a massive diesel fuel spill that reached all the way to the Bay over the weekend.

The emergency was caused by some sort of malfunction with a tank feeding fuel to the emergency generator basement. The diesel then made it out of Stanley Hall due to the pumps in the basement that remove natural water that often collects. About 100 students were immediately evacuated from the building. Crews quickly started siphoning the fuel from the basement with large pumping trucks.

"The agencies are telling us that it was a very small fraction that made its way into the bay, unfortunately," said Mark Freiberg with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Some absorbent booms have been set up at the Berkeley Marina where Strawberry Creek meets the San Francisco Bay. The diesel is caked onto some of the absorbent materials after an eight mile journey downstream from the campus of UC Berkeley.

The initial assessment on wildlife says the impact is minimal. The birds seem to be reacting, but there are also fish in Strawberry Creek, and the effects on them are still being assessed.

"We know that we had some 1,700 gallons of diesel fuel spill within the building," said Freiberg, "and a smaller amount, small fraction of that was released to the creek."

The fuel spill was first noticed at 7 p.m. Saturday by a UC campus police officer who came across a foul smell along Strawberry Creek. Goopy diesel was seeping through the water.

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