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Fuel Spills

By: Matt Schiefferly
Vice President Safety Services


Fuel spills resulting from vehicle accidents can be very expensive. In the incident of a vehicle accident, regardless of the circumstances, the spill generator has strict liability and is responsible for fuel clean-up. Clean-up costs of government hired contractors can be triple the costs of those contractors hired independently. Fines for failing to notify local agencies or competing a proper clean-up can range into the thousands of dollars. The cost of a fuel spill can be over $100,000 if improperly contained. This can be dramatically reduced with proper planning and training, and managing the fuel spill incident with immediate and appropriate response.

Drivers Response Actions:
The driver is the key to keeping fuel spill costs low, his actions are critical at the scene.:
  • If the saddle tank is leaking, shut off the cross over lines, attempt to plug the leak to slow or stop leakage.
  • If the cross over lines are leaking cut and crimp the lines if possible.
  • Prevent spill liquid from entering storm drains or sewers.
  • Build a dike of dirt, rocks, furniture pads or whatever possible to slow and contain run off of fuel.
  • Confine the liquid on hard surface such as asphalt or concrete if possible. Discourage washing the liquid from the road.
  • Keep all persons away from the spill, except for emergency responders.
  • DO NOT SIGN ANY CONTRACT or clean-up agreement without instructions from the company and your insurer.
  • Notify the appropriate person at your company and follow their instructions.
  • Do not discuss the spill with anyone other than the emergency response crew and your contracted clean-up contractor.
  • Remain at the scene as instructed by your company.
The Company contact person also needs to act quickly to control the cost of the spill.

Company Contact Duties:
  • Get the exact location of the unit and phone number where driver can be reached.
  • Scope of the spill (number of gallons, size, type of liquid).
  • Time of spill and how it occurred.
  • Name, organization, and telephone number of responding authorities.
  • If the local authorities have not been contacted do so immediately.
  • Notify the insurance company and get a clean-up contractor to respond.

The keys to controlling the cost of a fuel spill are to stop the spill quickly, contain the spill to the smallest possible area and notify the insurance company and clean-up crew quickly so clean-up can get started immediately.

Any questions or comments can be directed to Matt Schiefferly 800-852-1968 or e-mail matts@paulhanson.com .