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Dickinson leaders question how diesel spill messes occurred in last 19 days

Officials are calling hazardous spills in Dickinson their idea of a weekend affair, but the messes are eating up city resources.

"On paper, a lot of times for the most part I'm sure everyone thinks it was no big deal," Dickinson Fire Chief Bob Sivak said Tuesday to the Dickinson City commissioners at their meeting at City Hall.

Sivak reported three hazardous spills occurred in the last 19 days.

The Dickinson Fire Department responded to a complaint about a diesel fuel spill Dec. 16 in the alley behind 425 Sims St. The DFD estimated the spill at 10 to 15 gallons, but Stark County Emergency Manager Bill Fahlsing estimated it to be 50 gallons in a report.

Personnel spread absorbent to contain the spill, but a resident complained to the DFD the next day that it was ineffective after warm temperatures melted the snow, causing the fuel to run into the gutter. Sivak said the DFD contained the spill before it hit the sewers. The cost was more than $2,210.

Sivak said it was impossible to determine the amount spilled, and the source is unknown. The Dickinson Police Department is investigating the incident, Sivak said.

"Any of these incidents are labor intensive and time intensive, and in the case of this one, it involved several city departments," he told commissioners. "When you see a spill on those reports, this is what can be involved sometimes -- a three-day affair, virtually every department and a cost to the city."

The Dickinson Police Department, Dickinson Street Department and Dickinson Water Utilities were involved.

Sivak said there were two additional calls for diesel fuel spills. One was in south Dickinson. Fuel leaked into the asphalt and it was too late to do anything, Sivak said.

The DFD was able to contain the second incident on Fifth Avenue West. The spill came from a service tank on the back of a truck. Sivak added the department had more information, so the city could pursue reimbursement and fine the party responsible.

In other news

- Commissioners questioned whether the city would be able to survive the two years it will take to build a water treatment facility.

"Two years ago or three years ago we were really exceeding our limits in some cases, and a lot has happened since then," Commissioner Joe Frenzel said. "How far can the city of Dickinson go before we are in trouble?"

The facility, which would be able to operate for 31,000 people, is scheduled to be complete June 2014, said Karla Olson of Apex Engineering Group. Olson said the facility is at capacity, but unless the city has really wet weather, it should be able to make it until the completion date.

"I think we have done everything we can," she said. "If we get to that point, it will have to be a discussion."

Olson added modular tanks could be added to double its capacity if needed. The total cost is slated at $33.5 million.

- The commission also unanimously passed the final reading of an ordinance that would prevent campgrounds from becoming man camps. The ordinance was presented at a Dec. 5 meeting. A clause limiting occupants to a 14-day stay was struck from the ordinance after it was met with criticism from the public.

The commission had a hearing Dec. 19 where members from the public said the ordinance was satisfactory. No one from the public spoke at the meeting Tuesday.