East Providence Fire Department helps quell two fuel spills in city

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EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Fire Department helped to quell two potentially significant situations that occurred concurrently Thursday morning, Dec. 19, in city.

At the Aspen Aerogels station located on Dexter Road, the EPFD joined the Clean Harbors company, representatives from the state Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Coast Guard in making sure an ethanol spill was kept contained on the grounds.

According to EPFD Lieutenant James Bellamy, the city's deputy fire marshal, a tanker truck believed to be empty was overfilled at the Aspen location. The truck actually had room for just 1,000 gallons of ethanol, meaning some 4,000 gallons spilled onto the property.

Lt. Bellamy said Clear Harbor personnel and existing containment procedures on the grounds collected much of the spilled ethanol. And because of the recent frigid weather, storm drains were frozen solid, meaning none of the toxic fuel escaped into the adjacent Seekonk River. EPFD Engine 3, Ladder 3 and the department's HazMat unit responded to the call.

"They were very luck in that respect," Lt. Bellamy said, referring to the blocked storm drains and the fuel not reaching the Seekonk River.

The firefighters weren't done. At roughly the same time, approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday, EPFD units responded to the U-Haul grounds on North Broadway after a car knocked over a propane fuel pump.

Lt. Bellamy said the situation there was "touchy" because it occurred simultaneously with what was happening about a mile up the road at Aspen, but that the department quickly contained and managed the spill.

The noxious odor of the fuel, however, penetrated the main building at the site. Lt. Bellamy said the structure was evacuated and needed a few hours for the air to be cleared and deemed safe for occupancy.

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