Diesel tanks at hospital site leak several hundred gallons of fuel oil.
SPRINGFIELD - Investigators are trying to determine what caused 500 to 700 gallons of diesel fuel oil to leak onto the ground from an underground storage tank at PeaceHealth's new hospital.
Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, set to open next August, has two 40,000-gallon underground fuel tanks next to its central utility plant. The tanks would be used to power generators in the event of a power outage, spokesman Brian Terrett said Thursday.
On Oct. 24, a subcontractor was testing a control system that equalizes the fuel in the tanks. The next morning, workers found fuel leaking out of an above-ground vent pipe, Terrett said.
A safety system designed to prevent such a spill was not connected to the tanks because it was being tested independently, he said.
Two companies were hired to clean up the spill, he said. The first thing they did was pump the remaining fuel out of the tanks and into a tanker truck.
Pea gravel was used as backfill around the tanks, and crews removed as much of the contaminated material as possible, said Cathy Rodda, a natural resource specialist with the state Department of Environmental Quality in Eugene.
So far, there's no sign the spill reached groundwater in the area, which is about 22 feet below the ground surface, Rodda said.
"We're taking additional soil samples from outside the excavation area to confirm that we're getting everything out of there," she said.
Preliminary estimates indicate the cleanup will cost more than $100,000, Terrett said.
An investigation will be conducted to determine exactly what went wrong and to fix responsibility for the cleanup costs, he said.