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A leak in a 10,000-gallon tank  at the Ridley Township Municipal Maintenance Center at Second and Sutton avenues has been leaking diesel fuel into Stony Creek for about a day. The leak in the massive underground  tank was discovered Tuesday morning when Prospect Park residents noticed the fuel odor.

Ridley Township Fire Marshal Robert Griffith told Vince Sullivan of the DelCo NewsNetwork “We got a report of a fuel spill into the creek at about 10 a.m.,” Griffith said. The original call came from Prospect Park where someone smelled the fuel. We traced the spill back the township garage here.”

Griffith estimated the leak had been ongoing for about 24 hours, which gave the fuel enough time to seep through the soil and into a 16-inch stormwater pipe, where it ran into the creek. The tank was not filled to capacity, and there was still fuel inside when the leak was located. The amount of fuel that leaked from the tank is unknown.

Fire companies responded and began placing absorbent booms on the surface of the water to soak up the fuel slick, which floats atop the water.

“The spill was contained to creek itself,” Griffith said, adding that no fuel made it past Chester Pike. The Darby Creek and the Delaware River estuaries were free of contamination, he said. There was no infiltration of the fuel into drinking water, and the only ill effect most people would experience is a lingering odor for a couple of days.

Downstream at 13th Avenue in Prospect Park, fish and a turtle could be seen swimming in the water as a brown slick flowed past. A fuel-like odor permeated the area around the creek. A boom set up near East Hinckley Avenue in Ridley Park farther downstream seemed to be catching whatever fuel made it that far south. Once contained by the booms, the fuel could be vacuumed from the creek.

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection responded to the scene and were assisting with cleanup. The damaged fuel tank was pumped out and township officials were preparing to remove it to determine the cause of the leak.

A DEP spokesperson said that there was no evidence of any negative impact on wildlife.

Firefighters from Prospect Park, Ridley Park, Folsom, Leedom, Eddystone, Woodlyn and Sharon Hill fire companies responded to the spill, along with Delaware County hazardous materials workers and the county’s mobile command center.

The last major fuel spill in Ridley Township that effected Ridley Park was the gasoline leak into the The Little Crum Creek in 2009.

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Comment by RidleyParkOnline on July 9, 2015 at 4:50pm

Ridley Park residents along the banks of the Stony Creek are asked to report any odors to the Ridley Park Borough Office at 610-532-2100 or email manager@ridleyparkborough.org.  The request from the Borough is to assure that the spill has been completely contained. 

Comment by Steve Schwichow on July 9, 2015 at 2:30pm

<sigh> What a tragedy. I played by that creek growing up.

Comment by Jessica G on July 9, 2015 at 12:31pm

Is it possible this is why two of the remaining large white ducks in the pond died last week? Also- are they EVER going to clean up the mess from the fireworks? We spent an hour this week cleaning up beer cans, junk food wrappers and other debris from Sunday.  We couldn't even fit it in the large trash cans.

Comment by RidleyParkOnline on July 9, 2015 at 12:12pm

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection told Vince Sullivan of the DelCoTimes that hundreds of fish and other marine life are dead after a diesel fuel tank leaked into Stoney Creek Tuesday afternoon.

The leak came from an underground storage tank at the township maintenance garage at Second and Sutton avenues. Township Fire Marshal Robert Griffith said on Tuesday that the leak had most likely been going on for about a day before it was discovered. The diesel fuel leached through the ground and into stormwater pipes that discharge into the creek. Fuel floated in the creek as far down as East Hinckley Avenue in Ridley Park.

“They have seen a bunch of dead or dying fish in the creek,” said DEP Press Secretary Neil Shader, referring to other DEP workers on the scene of the spill Wednesday. “It’s mostly sunfish and minnows, with some crayfish, frogs and one eel.”

Shader said that an environmental contractor had worked through the night into Wednesday cleaning up the water by vacuuming the floating fuel from the surface after it was dammed by absorbent booms. A determination about the amount of diesel that leaked from the 10,000-gallon tank has not yet been made.

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Shader also noted that a bright green dye was used to trace the source of the leak, and that some of the dye may remain in the creek for the next few days. It is completely non-toxic, he said, and is not a concern for residents.

The fish kill is being worsened by the relatively low level of the creek, making it difficult for fish and other animals to move away from the fuel contamination.

At a deeper part of the creek Tuesday afternoon, before the leak had been stopped, several fish, a large eel and a common snapping turtle could be seen swimming through floating brown sludge near 13th Avenue in Prospect Park.

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