Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Wednesday, February 25, 1998

Fuel oil spill contained at Willard Drug Treatment Center

WILLARD - An accidental spill of 1,340 gallons of fuel oil at the Willard Drug Treatment Center today has been contained.

Willard employees, specialists with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and members of the Ovid and Seneca Lake volunteer fire departments used booms to contain the oil that spilled from a storage tank at 4 a.m. and ran into a small nearby creek. Some of the oil reached Seneca Lake, about a quarter mile from the site of the spill. DEC officials say the small amount of oil that flowed into the lake should not create any significant environmental problems.

The booms will help absorb the oil and obstruct any further flow into the lake. To additionally impede the flow, Willard employees this morning used frontloaders and backhoes to erect a stone and earthen dam in the area where the creek feeds into Seneca Lake.

The cold temperatures of the early morning hours - coupled with the heavy consistency of the fuel oil No. 6 which is used to heat the Willard facility - also helped prevent a further flow of oil into Seneca Lake.

DEC officials, in conjunction with the Office of General Services, have hired an independent spill contractor to handle the cleanup. That contractor secured the site this afternoon and will begin the cleanup at 7 a.m. tomorrow. The Department of Correctional Services then will be billed for the cost of the cleanup.

The spill was discovered by a civilian engineer working in the power plant. The spill apparently occurred when another civilian engineer at the power plant accidentally diverted fuel oil from the plant into a nearby underground 50,000-gallon storage tank that already was filled with fuel oil. The fuel oil was supposed to be diverted to another underground 50,000-gallon storage tank which was not filled.

The civilian engineer who apparently diverted the fuel oil to the wrong tank faces possible disciplinary charges in connection with the incident. He is not being identified at this time.