Wellesley Fire Department Captain Jim Dennehy and his team had a long day yesterday, responding to the initial call about a gas odor near the State Street parking lot at the Wellesley High School track around 8am Sunday and then coordinating on what turned out to be a 400-gallon diesel fuel spill with members of the Wellesley Police Department, Mass Department of Environmental Protection, Wellesley High School and private clean-up company Cyn until after it got dark at around 7:30pm.
“We initially figured it was a gas leak, that’s the kind of thing you usually get this time of year,” Dennehy says.
Once officials saw the fuel in the water and traced it back to its source (a blown pressure gauge on the pump taking oil from the tank to the furnace area at Wellesley High…the boiler room had last been checked at 11pm on Friday), Dennehy used his knowledge as a member of the state’s hazmat team to contact appropriate people. Handling the situation “actually didn’t require a lot of manpower,” he says.
Safety and cleanup officials were able to contain much of the mess by deploying booms (from Wellesley and from the environmental cleanup company) for absorbing and retaining the oil, which worked its way from Skating Pond and Fuller Brook into nearby Caroline Brook and the Charles River by way of Fuller Brook. Booms were placed on the waterway through Nehoiden Golf Course “to try to get ahead of the spill,” said Dennehy, who grew up in Wellesley and is very familiar with the terrain.
The heavy rain didn’t help though, as water levels rose several feet around some of the booms, and cleanup officials also had to deal with removing oil from pond ice.
I asked Dennehy if he noticed any critters nearby and he said one rat did slink away and that ducks were in the area but not immediately in the spillage spots.
Monday, Cyn was back on the scene to continue cleanup and monitor the situation.
As for future clean-up, the new Wellesley High probably can’t open too soon. It’s possible that some environmental remediation would be done when the old building is taken down.