Four gallons of diesel fuel were released from a tractor at the East Boston Camps and portions of Plain Road last Tuesday after caretaker George Fletcher reportedly hit a stump.
According to an official report from Westford conservation and resource planner Bill Turner, the incident occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m. while Fletcher was returning to his home on Plain Road near following cleanup of trees damaged during the October snowstorm.
While employees on duty at Stony Brook Acres said that neither they nor any of their customers noticed the leak at the approximate time of the accident, Fletcher realized the situation at the gates of the camp and confirmed the leak arriving at his home, which is approximately 1,500 feet away from the entrance to the Camps.
He noticed that the gas tank on his tractor had significantly drained, followed by the discovery of the leak itself. However, he felt that the quantity of the leak, which he estimated at two gallons, was not worthy of immediately reporting to town officials, particularly given his belief that much of it would be washed away by the expected rain storms that evening.
“It was a small leak, and it didn’t have to be legally reported,” said Fletcher. “I’m as much of a conservationist as anybody, but I didn’t feel that there was so much spilled that it immediately had to be cleaned up. Others may disagree, but there was very little to clean up.”
According to Westford Police Capt. Victor Neal, emergency officials were informed of the leak by a local resident at 7:08 a.m. on Wednesday morning, followed by later investigation of the scene by Westford Board of Health officials.
Soon after the incident was reported, workers were on the scene with Speedy Dry absorbent material to collect the spill in pavement areas. It was transported back to the Highway Department facilities on North Street along with diesel spilled in dirt areas, which were scraped up directly.
Highway Department officials also placed soil absorbent pads and booms in areas near the spill where water was accumulating or where there was potential risk of the spill seeping into wetlands, particularly near Day Beach. Turner’s report indicating that most of the runoff related to these methods was able to be collected before it impacted sensitive areas.
Aferwards, the incident to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, although it was not required to have been reported to DEP officials due to the agency’s 10 gallon minimum threshold for diesel spills.
With the “Limited Removal Action” portion of the cleanup now complete, according to Westford director of land use management Angus Jennings, the town now awaits further analysis of the situation by ENPRO Services and a field geologist from Woodward and Curran.
UPDATES - 9:40 (See Comments Section)