SF Transit Must Set Up ICS Training for 2005 Spill

On behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice has lodged a proposed consent decree with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the city and county of San Francisco for releasing at least 940 barrels of diesel fuel -- some of which entered into Islais Creek, a tributary of the San Francisco Bay.

The proposed consent decree, subject to a 30-day public comment period, will require the city and county of San Francisco to pay a $250,000 civil penalty. It will also require the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority to implement an Incident Command System training program that will improve coordination and communication during future incidents of this nature.

This enforcement action stems from red dye diesel fuel being released from the Woods bus servicing facility, located at 1095 Indiana Street in San Francisco during late November and December of 2005. The EPA estimates at least 39,000 gallons of fuel were released.

The spill originated at the Woods motor coach refueling facility when a faulty hose ruptured and underground storage tanks overflowed. The released diesel fuel landed in a storm drain where heavy flows from a major December rain storm caused the storm drain to overflow to the stormwater line. The fuel then caused an interference with a San Francisco southeast wastewater treatment pump station. From there, some of the fuel spilled into Islais Creek, which drains into Central San Francisco Bay.

“Facility operators must pay rigorous attention to operational practices in order to protect the San Francisco Bay and our coastal resources,” said Laura Yoshii, the EPA's Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

The discharge of oil into Islais Creek and interference with the pump station were violations of the Clean Water Act. An EPA investigation also revealed that the release of diesel fuel was due to the failure of Municipal Transit Authority staff to comply with federal regulations issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that governs the management of underground storage tanks. The EPA has asserted that SF Muni’s federal RCRA violations include:

  • disabling an audible alarm system intended to alert operators to an ongoing release of diesel;
  • failure to respond to flashing yellow alarm lights triggered by tank sensor alarms in full alarm mode;
  • failure to maintain a written log noting the status, source, or reason for alarms;
  • failure to use fuel inventory controls to monitor and observe that it was losing fuel from, the tanks at a constant conspicuous rate
  • inadequate containment;
  • a known kink and bulge in a faulty, braided, flexible hose that ultimately failed, and;
  • failure to timely notify authorities of the release.

Following the December 2005 spill at the Woods facility, EPA investigated compliance at additional bus servicing facilities and found varying levels of noncompliance with spill prevention requirements at three facilities: the Flynn Facility, located at 15th and Harrison St.; the Kirkland Facility, located at 151 Beach St.; and the Marin Facility, located at 1399 Marin St.

The city and county of San Francisco conducted remedial actions to clean up the spill in 2006 and has also taken initiative to evaluate its procedures and upgrade its facilities to prevent further spills. In addition to the work required by the consent decree, the Municipal Transit Authority has completed all spill prevention, control, and countermeasure requirements and including installation of adequate containment, and the preparation of spill prevention plans; replaced the piping in underground sumps and containment boxes under all diesel and gasoline dispensers; repaired alarms, and installed external alarms with light and horn notifications and a remote alarm monitoring system.

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