City addresses Heatherstone oil spill

Sep 15, 2017

Editor’s note: Residents in Mill Creek’s Heatherstone Division raised concerns in August when the city street sweeper leaked oil throughout that neighborhood.

One resident, Roger Nickall, tried to use an environmentally safe solvent to clean one section of the spill, without success.

Residents expressed concern that the oil will get washed down the storm drains when the rains return, endangering fish and other wildlife.

City officials were alerted, and sent us the following response:

Thank you for sharing this concern with us and for giving us an opportunity to respond.

It is always helpful when citizens have concerns for them to directly contact the City so we can respond in a more timely manner and with factual information. Citizens can do this online at http://www.cityofmillcreek.com/requesttracker.aspx, so submitting concerns is not dependent on whether or not the concern arises during business hours.

The City's maintenance staff are responsible for maintaining 106 lane-miles of street surface. Street sweeping is done as part of our Surface Water permit requirements, aesthetic appearance, and safety concerns for the driving public.

The crew sweeps all city streets on at least a quarterly basis and does its best to conduct additional sweeping when possible.

In the situation outlined below, our City employee (we don’t contract out for sweeping services!) was making a regular sweeping run. As part of normal operations, the sweeper drips transition water and broom water that helps keep dust down as the sweeping occurs.

This normal water line was apparent the day of the situation noted, and the sweeper was operating correctly for at least part of the routine sweeping operation.

At one point, when the employee tried to adjust her broom, it wouldn’t move. Upon further investigation, she realized the hydraulic line had a leak, which she immediately plugged.

The sweeper was returned to City Hall and has since been repaired.

As noted by the concerned resident, a thin hydraulic fluid trail was left throughout the neighborhood as sweeping occurred. Since the trail was mixed with the transition and broom water, it was diluted.

The mixture did leave a discolored trail, similar in color to other existing roadwork patches in the neighborhood. When the employee assessed the situation, there was nothing from the leak that could be absorbed.

The City’s Acting Public Works Director has verified this. Therefore, when it rains, it is very unlikely to have any runoff.

However, to ensure no pollutants enter the surface water system, the City is installing catch basin absorbers in the vicinity of the leaks.

Again, we encourage citizens to report concerns directly to the City at http://www.cityofmillcreek.com/requesttracker.aspx so we are actually able to address them in a timely manner.

We want to work with our community to make Mill Creek an exceptional place to live. We can do this when we work together. Please help us be successful.

Joni Kirk

Director of Communications and Marketing

City of Mill Creek

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