Matadero Creek / VA Palo Alto Health Care Diesel Spill

Published on May 13, 2021

Matadero Creek  VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) Diesel Spill Joint Community Update

PALO ALTO, Calif. - On May 6, 2021, VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) experienced a diesel fuel spill at its Palo Alto Division during a required generator test. VAPAHCS Engineering and Safety and Emergency Management Services took action to address the situation. The Palo Alto Fire Department considers the incident as stable at this time.

While the generator plant system was shut off, due to the fuel system pressure, fuel was released outside of the building in the soil around the building, and on the roof, and the VA’s storm drain and nearby creek area.

VAPAHCS  notified the Palo Alto Fire Department that spill kits were deployed to prevent the fuel from entering storm drains; however, some of the fuel did seep past the containment efforts and was found in the Matadero Creek behind the campus. The VAPAHCS response team worked to remove any seepage, including the use of fuel absorbent mats and spill pads deployed into the water.

Several local and federal agencies were notified by VAPAHCS, including Fish and Wildlife, and VAPAHCS is cooperating with the City of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Fire Department.  VAPAHCS notified the neighboring community behind the campus.

The Palo Alto Fire Department is overseeing all aspects of the incident including mitigation and code enforcement such as action plan approvals, decontamination, containment, testing and monitoring.   Monitoring and abatement continues by all agencies, as well as, VAPAHCS is developing an assessment to prevent future incidents from occurring and the City Fire Department and Public Works Department will assist with an after-action review. 

The Palo Alto Fire Department is overseeing the formal investigation and several containment and mitigation measures are being conducted by VAPAHCS third party vendor Environmental Logistics including testing.  VAPAHCS will continue testing as directed by the Palo Alto Fire Department. While the extent of the spill and other incident details are not available at this time, the VAPAHCS expects to have updated analysis as early as tomorrow. More information will be released, as details become available.

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