Petroleum Found In Springfield Sewer Triggers Investigation
SPRINGFIELD TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – On Wednesday, Springfield officials and the State of TN Dept of Environmental Conservation began an investigation to find the source of a flammable petroleum based liquid that made it’s way into the city’s sewer system.
The call came in from the Springfield City Water department around 3:00am Wednesday morning. The city water department was asking the Springfield Fire Department to respond to a sewer access point near the intersection of Central Avenue and Memorial.
According to Springfield’s Director of Water & Wastewater, Roger Lemasters, PE, a special unit with the water department called the Infiltration/Inflow crew (INI) was conducting a routine check of the sewer system after the heavy rains we had, which is standard procedure.
It was during the routine inspection that one of the engineers detected the flammable liquid in the sewer. The engineer immediately initiated an investigation to isolate the source of the flammable liquid and the fire department was called in to assist in the process of evacuating it from the sewer system, Leamasters said.
The danger was real according Lemasters who told Smokey Barn News that the flammable liquid could have triggered an explosion in the sewer that “could have sent 150 lb manhole covers flying onto the air” and pushed water out of catches in drains. This would allow sewer gases to seep into homes. “We were at %100 of the LEL ‘Lower Explosive Limit,” Leamasters said.
According to Springfield Fire Chief Jimmy Hamill, after the combustible petroleum liquid made its way into the sewer system, the fire department assisted the Springfield water department by flushing the sewer with water from a hydrant. Springfield Fire also applied a wetting agent called FireAde 2000 which is a vapor suppressing agent… “to get the vapors knocked down,” Hamill said.
The vapor had a petroleum smell that could have made its way up residential and commercial drains, so some residents and businesses in the area could have smelled the petroleum Wednesday, especially if their drain-catch was dried out, Chief Hamill said.
Chief Hamill told Smokey Barn News that when Firefighters returned to their station (located in the area affected on Central Blvd.) they were able to smell the vapors emanating from the floor drains in their bathrooms, so residents and businesses may have also detected the odor.
Springfield Fire and the water department sampled sewer access points around the city trying to localize the source of the petroleum. The entire process to evacuate the sewer of the gas to a safe level took about three hours, Hamill said.
Robertson County Emergency Management Agency was also notified.
Springfield water, and the State of TN Dept of Environmental Conservation are now trying to determine just how the fuel made its way into the sewer system.
Chief Hamill said, now that the fuel has largely been evacuated from the sewer there is no danger to the community, however it is possible that some residents in the Springfield area could notice a petroleum smell coming from their drains.
The smell will be different than natural gas. Natural gas has a rotten egg smell because Methyl mercaptan is added to make leaks easier to locate. This gas will smell more like a petroleum product, Hamill said.
Officials are still looking for the source of the petroleum liquid, Hamill said, “We are narrowing it down.”
Officials don’t know the type of petroleum product it is or the grade of gasoline but it is a petroleum product, according to Hamill.
An analytical company called Environmental Science in Mt Juliet was sent samples of sewage material to determine the composition of the petroleum. The report will take about two weeks, Lemasters said.
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