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Carbondale Fire works to correct diesel spill at Marble station

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By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

An agreement is nearly complete between the Town of Marble and the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District that will allow work to get underway to clean up what fire officials believe is a relatively small diesel spill from tanks at the Marble fire house, according to fire district officials.
Deputy Fire Chief Rob Goodwin told The Sopris Sun on Tuesday that last week the fire district’s board of directors voted to approve an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the town, which Goodwin said may be signed by Marble officials next week, to cover the cleanup of soils beneath two tanks at the firehouse.
One of the tanks contains diesel fuel, the other gasoline, that are stored in the tanks for use in three vehicles in the town-owned fire house – a fire engine, a tanker, and a “rescue squad” SUV that is equipped for back-country travel.
The property is leased to the Carbondale fire district, and the tanks have been in place since around 1998, Goodwin said.
When asked about the size of the plume of diesel in the soil, which might indicate the volume and duration of the leak, Goodwin replied, “Nobody really knows.”
He explained that since the leak was reported by part-time Marble resident Steve Lucht, on Nov. 22, 2016, the fire department has examined the ground with the help of a local cleanup company called Ecos.
Using a device that Goodwin called a “sniffer,” officials got confusing readings that at first indicated that the plume of diesel grew more concentrated the deeper the “sniffer” probe went.
Goodwin said that fire department records show that the tanks have not experienced spills.
“They’ve never leaked,” he said. “We’ve never had a spill there.”
But, he said, fuel tankers have been used to top-up the tanks. The last time that happened, Goodwin recalled, was in early 2015.
It is now thought that perhaps there was some minor splashing or dripping during the topping-up visits, and that the diesel was washed out of the “containment basin” below the tanks, which has a shallow drain to allow water and snow to escape.
“It surprised us, too,” Goodwin said of the initial news of the leak, and the idea that relatively small amounts of fuel appear to have flowed out through the drain.
“We don’t go through that much fuel” at the Marble station, he added, as an explanation for the sense of surprise.
The fire district got permission on Monday, from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, to sink five bore holes into the ground around the containment basin to determine the extent of the diesel plume, and then to dig the contaminated soil out and dispose of it.
After that, Goodwin said, “We’re getting rid of the tanks.”
Instead, he said, the district plans to drive the Marble-based vehicles to a fuel station, perhaps at the Roaring Fork Coop, which is where the district fuels the vehicles kept at the Carbondale headquarters.
“We want this to be put right,” Goodwin said, noting that fire district officials also are area residents, who do not want to see potential groundwater pollution caused by the district’s activities.
He said that ECOS, working with another cleanup firm, Environmental Services, Inc., will be working together on the project, and that the budget for the cleanup has not yet been put together as he is still receiving price quotes and other figures.
He said the department hopes the cleanup will begin in earnest in mid-February.

Published in The Sopris Sun on Feb. 2, 2017. 

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