An aircraft company operating at San Francisco International Airport was fined nearly $80,000 for inadvertently funneling jet fuel into the water treatment system.
Aircraft Service International Inc. agreed to pay $77,982 in civil penalties and cleanup cost reimbursements to settle allegations it violated laws and regulations about the disposal and storage of hazardous waste at an unauthorized point. It also did not quickly report the release to state emergency services agency or county environmental health and didn’t adhere to a part of the California Fire Code, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The company was not required to admit any wrongdoing as part of the stipulated judgment reached with San Mateo County prosecutors but must agree to comply with environmental protection and fire code rules and laws.
The fuel contamination appeared to be an accident and the company cooperated in the cleanup, said prosecutor Todd Feinberg of the District Attorney’s Office consumer and environmental unit.
“I didn’t see any indication of intentionally knowing they were putting jet fuel into the treatment plant,” Feinberg said.
The hazardous waste situation began Sept. 28, 2012, when an ASII supervisor ordered two mechanics at SFO to remove a pool of oily water from the company’s maintenance facility there using a fuel pit maintenance truck. The mechanics didn’t know the truck’s tank already held 200 to 400 gallons of Jet A fuel — which they were not trained to handle — and discharged the collected water into the airport’s Westfield Wash Rack. The fuel came out with the water and ended up ultimately transferring to the SFO Mel Leong Treatment Plan which connects to the rack via an industrial waste pump station.
The treatment plan handles industrial wastewater and storm water runoff from the airport.
On Oct. 1, 2012, treatment plant workers noticed fuel in the system and the next day began the cleanup process. Two days later, ASII became involved in the decontamination after learning its employees were responsible. The county was alerted of the fuel release Oct. 5 not by ASII but a third party.
Samples taken at the water treatment system two months later showed the levels of jet fuel and diesel organics had come back down to normal, Feinberg said.
There were no signs the jet fuel ever left the treatment plant, he said.
Davina Pujari, who represented ASII in the case, did not return a call for comment.
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