Hebron Station Elementary School Oil Spill
On this page:
On December 27, 2013, DEP received a call from the Oxford Hills School District reporting an overfill spill of approximately 2000 gallons of heating oil from their above ground storage tank at the elementary school. The oil had been delivered and the tank overfilled at approximately midnight, December 24. The amount of oil involved, the time of year and the location of this spill presents complexities that require involvement of geologists, engineers and responders to determine and implement a solution.
The Department is overseeing work of contractors performing cleanup and remediation activities and partnering with the Maine Center for Disease Control to ensure both public health and the environment are protected. DEP is regularly monitoring possible contamination within and outside of the school.
April 2, 2014
The Department is keeping a close eye on the oil in the wetlands as the weather warms and the rainfall increases. As the snow softens, more oil is recoverable and the Department will ensure that the sorbent pads are changed more often.
The Department invited National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Scientific Support Coordinator Steve Lehmann to visit the site and review our clean-up and offer any recommendations. He will be onsite on Wednesday, April 2. The Department also contacted the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for any recommendations in regard to the monitoring of the outdoor air quality that may arise as the snow and ice melts.
As expected, analyses show that the school’s well water continues to be uncontaminated and we are able to relax the sampling interval to once per month.
The Department remains committed to keeping a watchful eye as the weather continues to remain above freezing during the day.
Updated: January 30, 2014
- What is the State’s Process for Cleaning Up Spills?
- The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has trained professionals on call 24/7/365 who are dispatched throughout the state when emergency spill situations require clean up. Some situations can be immediately addressed and others present technical and evolving challenges that require effort over an extended time period. The amount of oil involved, time of year, and spill location in Hebron has presented complexities that require involvement by geologists, engineers, and responders to determine and implement the solution.
- How Much Oil Spilled?
- Approximately 1,516 gallons.
- Where Did the Oil Go?
- The oil seeped into the ground below the basement floor, into a nearby perimeter drain and out an outfall pipe into a nearby wooded wetland that exists on school property.
- How Much Oil is in the Wetland?
- We have calculated that 1,105 gallons of oil may be in the wooded wetland. We have removed approximately 192 of those gallons from the wetland. This estimate is based on what we collected from oil sorbent pads. As an evolving situation, we expect these numbers will change as more information is available.
- How Much Oil is Under the Basement Floor?
- We have calculated that 119 gallons of oil may have been under the floor. We have removed approximately 87 of those gallons through our clean-up activities.
- What Has Been Done to Recover the Oil?
- Oil is being recovered in two locations. One is out of a recovery sump installed in the basement in the room where the tank is located. Oil and contaminated water are regularly pumped by vacuum truck out of that sump. The other location is in the wetland. That oil is being recovered using oil sorbent pads. The pads have been placed in specific collection areas and are being changed out every other day. More recovery of oil in the wetland will likely be possible once the ice and snow melt, although caution must be used to make sure we don’t do anything to further damage the wetland by our clean-up actions.
- How Much Oil Has Been Collected?
- We estimate that we have recovered 280 gallons of oil, or approximately 18.5% of what spilled. As with any spill, the exact volume of how much oil is collected can never be determined. Based on our extensive experience with sorbent pads and other recovery equipment, we make knowledgeable estimates of the amount we collect.
- Is the Well Water Contaminated?
- No. Testing done to date (most recently 1/24/14) indicates no presence of oil in the school’s drinking water. Testing will be on-going to protect the health of all the occupants of the school. In the interest of exercising the utmost caution, DEP immediately required the installation of a filtration system to prevent any possible exposure if the well were to become contaminated in the future.
- Is the Indoor Air Quality Safe?
- Samples within the classrooms are safe for normal use. There is an elevated level of one chemical in the gymnasium. In consultation with the State Toxicologist Andy Smith, the Superintendent Rick Colpitts determined that the gymnasium is safe based on its standard use. Air sampling and consultations with the State Toxicologist will be ongoing as long as there is a potential threat to staff and students.
- What is the role of the DEP at this spill?
- It is our job to oversee clean-up efforts and to ensure public health and the environment are protected. We also collect water and air samples for laboratory analysis.
- What is the role of Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at this spill?
- DHHS makes all public health related decisions based on data provided them through air and water sampling. They decide if the building is safe to occupy and if the water is safe to use and drink.
Clean-up Questions: Jim Dusch, DEP 207-822-6317
Press Questions: Jessamine Logan, DEP 207-287-5842
Drinking Water Questions: Mike Abbott, DHHS 207-287-6196
Air Quality Questions: Andy Smith, DHHS 207-287-5189