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Up to 400 gallons of diesel leaks into News building

The fumes cause dizziness, nausea but no injuries

SHARE Up to 400 gallons of diesel leaks into News building

Perhaps as much as 400 gallons of diesel fuel may have leaked into the basement of the Deseret News during a Thursday accident, filling the nine-story building at 30 E. 100 South with noxious vapors that caused dizziness and nausea but caused no serious injuries.

The spill occurred when diesel intended for the neighboring Newspaper Agency Corp. was mistakenly delivered to a Deseret News storage tank that was already full, causing the fuel to leak throughout the basement where the paper's emergency generator is kept.

"We know 400 gallons were delivered, but we do not know the volume of the spill," Deseret News general manager Fred Temby said. "It might have been 400 gallons."

Officials with the Deseret News and Zions Securities, the company that manages the building, assured workers the fumes were not hazardous, and a private company, Health and Safety Services, was called to clean up the spill.

City public works crews also were called to flush spilled diesel fuel from storm drains around the Deseret News.

According to one state official, the Deseret News and Zions Securities may not have complied with state law that requires the fire department to be notified in the events of spills.

"The fact it was not reported to the fire department in the first place really concerns me," said Richard Gee, hazardous materials trainer for the state Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management.

Bruce Clayton with Zions Security confirmed that city fire crews were not called but an environmental cleanup company was called instead. They believed the building was adequately vented, he said.

Gee said standard protocol is for the fire department, not a private cleanup company, to investigate spills, stop the leaks and decide, through use of air monitors, whether the building is safe and "tenable."

"If the vapor levels are not at the point of flashing or a fire problem, then it is released to the management company for cleanup," he said. "It is the fire department's call. I can't believe they (Zions Securities) didn't call."

Jeff Throckmorton with Health and Safety Services said there was no need to place air monitors inside the building to determine vapor levels.

"Why would you need to?" he asked. "It's diesel, not gasoline . . . and it is below any significant health level."

The diesel posed no risk of exploding, and the fumes do not reach "meaningful levels" as viewed by federal health and safety regulators, he said.

Throckmorton said he knows the diesel fumes were not hazardous to employees "because I have done this for 25 years."

Temby said the cleanup continued all day and night Thursday and continued Friday morning.

E-MAIL: spang@desnews.com