Investigation Shows Fuel Spill at Marion County Fire Rescue Station Larger than First Reported
Published December 1st, 2012
OCALA - New documents obtained by TV20 from the state Department of Environmental Protection show the apparent fuel leak at a Marion County Fire Rescue station was larger than initially reported.
Documents show an investigation into this apparent diesel fuel leak began only after the department received a complaint about possible "diesel discharges" coming from a fuel tank behind station number 12. As a result, an environmental specialist from DEP was dispatched to investigate the fuel tank in northwest Ocala.
In a letter addressed to MCFR's chief one month after the initial investigation by DEP, the inspector notes several patches of stained and dead grass were noticable around the tank, as well as "a strong petroleum odor." Despite the strong odor, fire rescue officials told us on Thursday they were not aware of any leak until the DEP sent that letter.
While MCFR continues to claim the source of the leak was a faulty coupling, the DEP's clean up report contradicts that assessment, saying the discharge was caused by "an unknown person." Subsequent documents indicate the discharge occurred as a result of "a theft/human error."
Additionally, the report shows 10 gallons of diesel fuel was estimated to have been released, more than the five to 10 ounces TV20 was told about initially by officials from MCFR.
Internal reports submitted to Marion County Fire Rescue earlier this month highlight another recent incident involving diesel fuel. These public records are called "1001 reports," and must be filled out anytime a fire-rescue employee needs new equipment.
According to a recent 1001 report, a group of five MCFR employees needed new work boots, after their old ones had somehow become contaminated with diesel fuel while removing weeds and sand from a drainage pipe in a nearby retention pond. The report shows the incident occurred in early November, seven months after the DEP first discovered the diesel fuel spill.
When TV20 asked a MCFR human resources employee how diesel fuel may have ended up in that retention pond, the employee refused any comment, saying it's the subject of an ongoing investigation by their risk safety specialist.
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