Diesel fuel and nearly any volatile hydrocarbon fuel from kerosene to gasoline represents a hazard when spilt. The fuels are toxic, and their volatility means they dry out routinely and present a long-term hazard. They are also lighter than water, which means that using a garden hose on them can make matters considerably worse -- the diesel fuel gets washed down the storm drains and simply moves the problem downstream. Proper disposal of dried diesel fuel requires the use of enzymes and possibly multiple treatments to clean up properly.
- Skill level:
Scout out the area where the diesel fuel has been spilt -- in particular, look for areas where it might have drained to the water table and check out its full extent. If it has leached into the water table, contact your local office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Make sure you know where to apply the cleaning solution.
Apply the first enzymatic batch per the manufacturer's instructions. The first set of enzymes is used to coat the hydrocarbon molecules with a silica (or other neutral particle) surfactant. Think of this as being somewhat akin to how vegetable oil floats on water. This surfactant causes the hydrocarbon to rise out of the material it's dried to. It also makes the surface of the hydrocarbon droplets chemically sensitive to silica.
Apply the second enzymatic batch following the manufacturer's instructions. Where the first batch acted to isolate and encapsulate the hydrocarbons of the diesel fuel, the second batch is a curative agent that allows the hydrophilic action of silica (or a similar medium) to attract and absorb the dried-on diesel fuel.
Sweep up the granules of the material, and wait an hour. Repeat process until the diesel fuel is cleaned up.
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