By JAIME STUDD
Recorder News Staff
FULTONVILLE -- Emergency personnel from several local fire departments, the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation spent much of Sunday afternoon trying to contain diesel fuel that had spilled over in the parking lot of Betty Beaver's Truck Stop and Diner and was rapidly making its way into the Mohawk River.
Montgomery County Emergency Management Deputy Coordinator Adam Schwabrow said crews from the Fultonville Fire Department were called to the scene at approximately 12:30. p.m. The county's hazardous materials team was requested to the scene soon thereafter.
Schwabrow said the spill actually turned out to be far less severe than initially reported.
"It originally came in that it was about 50 gallons of fuel and we were able to determine by viewing the video tapes and the cash register that it ended up being about 25 gallons when it was all said and done," Schwabrow said.
Though the spill was limited, Sunday's precipitation did hinder the crews' the ability to be able to contain it, Schwabrow said.
"The biggest problem was the rain. Had it not been raining, the spill would have just been contained to the area," Schwabrow said. "But, due to the elevation change in the parking lot and the rain, it quickly spread throughout the parking lot into the storm drain and then got into the river."
To contain the spill, crews placed containment booms around the spill and in front of the storm drains, Schwabrow said.
The Fonda Fire Department, which has a boat, was called in to do the same in the portion of the river affected by the spill.
Schwabrow said crews were able to quickly contain and clean most of the spill.
"They got the majority of it," Schwabrow said.
According to a NYS DEC Region 4 official, the small amount of the diesel fuel spilled was not likely to leaving any lasting environmental impacts.
"It was a small amount so it (the impact) is pretty minimal," the official said. "Any amount of oil is no good, obviously, but it was probably around 25 gallons, and that's what was spilled, that's not what made it into the river."
Schwabrow said the spill was caused by a truck driver who used a salt shaker to continually depress the handle while fueling in place of having to do so manually.
When finished pumping the fuel, Schwabrow said, the driver than returned the nozzle to the pump, inadvertently leaving the salt shaker in place. When another driver pulled in and activated the pump, the fuel automatically began spilling out.
"Luckily the guy that had pulled in to get his gas noticed there was an issue, saw it, and was able to get over there and stop it before it turned into the couple hundred gallons on the ground," Schwabrow said.
According to the DEC official, the driver who placed the salt shaker in the handle was issued an appearance ticket for fourth degree endangering public health, safety or the environment, a class A misdemeanor and a violation of environmental conservation law. He was also charged with depositing an injurious substance on the highway, a vehicle and traffic law infraction.
In addition to the Fonda and Fultonville Fire Departments, the DEC and Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency, volunteers from the Glen Fire Department also assisted at the scene.