Oil spill simulated in Champaign

By Emily Bardales

Tuesday morning, UI utilities, along with Champaign and Urbana fire departments, gathered to conduct the oil spill simulation required annually by federal law.

The simulated spill took place in the west ally of the garage and car pool lot on S. Oak St. in Champaign. The officials acted out a scenario in which a truck’s filling hose broke while in the process of filling an oil tank.

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The mock spill used water to simulated 2,100 gallons of liquid petroleum.

“After the spill, we use maps to monitor the vapors,” said Lieutenant Brad Bone, of the Champaign fire department. “Every liquid eventually becomes a vapor, but the rate at which a liquid becomes a vapor depends on temperatures. Today’s weather is actually ideal.”

The maps showed where the oil would travel through different tunnels and sewer lines. Near buildings, the oil was found to travel underground.

“Underground has a higher temperature, so there is going to be more vapor and the main concern is making sure that the vapor coming up from the area is not getting into the buildings,” Bone said.

There are a number of things that can be done to prevent the oil from traveling too far. Crews can seal spillage with a foam that prevents vapor from escaping, and place booms at any point where oil might meet water.

“The simulated oil spill was contained in about 50 minutes, meaning that the oil was secured and contained from traveling any further,” said Keith Erickson, managing utility distributor.