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Diesel fuel spill procedures

Updated July 20, 2017

Not only can diesel fuel spills cause irreparable damage to the environment, they can present a very serious hazard to those near the spill. The flammable nature of diesel fuel makes it necessary for communities and organisations to come up with a fuel spill action plan in the rare event a diesel spill does occur. Doing so will ensure a quick, effective and safe cleanup of the offending spill.

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Most diesel fuel spill action plans begin with the "Evacuation" step. Since diesel fuel is a combustible and hazardous material, it's important for those near the spill to move a safe distance away to avoid injury. First responders will evacuate those close to a diesel fuel spill to a distance of at least 45 m (150 feet). First responders must also ensure that people are moved upwind of the spill to avoid injury. If any person must remain downwind, first responders will evacuate an area downwind of at least 300 m (1000 feet) for a large spill. Finally, if there is any railway transporter, tanker or tanker truck involved in a fire, the area be evacuated in all directions for 0.8 km (1/2 mile).


The containment phase will begin after the first responders have successfully and completely evacuated the area surrounding the diesel fuel spill. First, the responders will eliminate any type of ignition source surrounding the spill. After ignition sources are eliminated, the fuel spill responders will attempt to physically stop the leak at its source if it can be done safely. Next, they will attempt to keep the spill out of critical areas such as waterways, sewers, and other areas that could be considered confined. they will use soil or sand to help absorb the spill. Sand or soil will help contain the spill and aid the cleanup phase of the operation. If fuel vapours are a combustion concern, fuel spill cleanup workers will spray the area down with a vapour-suppressing material.


Once the diesel fuel spill is effectively contained, responders will begin the "Cleanup" step. The soil surrounding a diesel fuel spill should be excavated and removed until it is visually clear of contaminants. Because this may not rid the area of harmful fuel vapours, specialised vapour-detecting equipment will be used to search for "hot spots." This will aid in the further cleanup of affected soil. Once the contaminated soil is removed, the remaining soil will undergo tests to determine if the harmful chemicals related to the spill have been brought down to safe levels. For example, the soils should not have a concentration of Benzene of more than 00.04 parts per million after diesel fuel spill cleanup.

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About the Author

Starting in 2003 as an online editor for a respected collegiate publication, Brent Desserich has written for a number of online publications as a freelance writer. He holds a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science and an associate degree in air traffic control.

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