UC Berkeley reopens building after fuel spill

AP News
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Posted: Dec 12, 2011 2:43 PM
UC Berkeley reopens building after fuel spill

University of California, Berkeley officials on Monday reopened a campus building closed after 1,700 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from a storage tank into a nearby creek that meanders through campus.

Stanley Hall had been deemed safe by officials after air quality testing and reopened at 7:30 a.m. Monday in time for finals, said Janet Gilmore, a school spokeswoman.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Game have joined university officials in cleaning up the spill, which occurred Saturday night.

Much of the fuel flowed into Strawberry Creek, which runs through campus and is home to many plants and wildlife. Some of it by Sunday night reached San Francisco Bay.

Gilmore said crews were using vacuum equipment and absorbent towels to sop up as much of the fuel as possible. Officials urged people not to touch the fuel if they come near it.

A campus police officer on Saturday discovered the spill after noticing a strange odor coming from the creek.

Officials traced the odor to Stanley Hall, a building used by science students and faculty for classes and lab work, where a tank used to fuel an emergency generator overflowed during a diesel fuel transfer from a large storage tank.

The school said it had not yet determined the cause of the spill.

Strawberry Creek is a popular waterway that flows through campus and out to the bay. It underwent a major restoration starting in 1987.

The creek is home to fish, banana slugs, birds and a host of other creatures.

Gilmore said there had not yet been reports of harm to any wildlife.