Diesel fuel poured from a pump and pooled in traffic lanes, causing Highway 210 to be shut down for hours Thursday.
Kevin Tengwall, Brainerd Fire Department, said they were able to clean up the fuel, absorb and neutralize it Thursday night.
The fuel spill was reported after 6 p.m. Thursday at the SuperAmerica station in northeast Brainerd.
Tengwall said the spill was estimated to be less than 20 gallons. Initially, the call to the fire department had firefighters worried it was an underground leak.
But Tengwall said it was believed to be human error as the driver of a truck left the pump unattended while fueling and the automatic shutoff didn’t kick in. It wasn’t known Friday if the nozzle fell from the vehicle during fueling and struck the ground and then continued to pump.
The driver knew about the spill, shut off the tank and drove away without reporting the spill, Tengwall said. A person who observed the flowing diesel fuel in the street reported it to the station.
Highway 210, also known as Washington Street, was closed to traffic for four or five hours after the spill was detected.
“All because they weren’t standing by the nozzle and it was filling,” Tengwall said. “This is why they say you should attend the nozzle because you are responsible for the cost of the fuel and the cost of the cleanup.”
The highway was shut down from Fourth Avenue Northeast to the Highway 25 intersection by the East Brainerd Mall. The diesel fuel had ponded in the street and traffic through the fuel carried it along the highway. Tengwall said they isolated about 150 feet along the highway.
Tengwall said the spilled fuel created a slippery situation making it difficult to walk and posing a safety concern for vehicles and the ability to stop. The fire department dammed the area to prevent the fuel from getting into the storm water system and Tengwall said he believed that effort was a success. An outside cleanup company was called to assist and workers tested the area to confirm no fuel reached the storm water.
“If the person that spilled the fuel would have notified someone right away it would have saved a lot of hassle because it wouldn’t have gotten to Washington Street,” Tengwall said.
The automatic shutoffs on fuel pumps are not fail-safe, which is why the pumps have written statements saying the pump has to be monitored while fueling, Tengwall said, adding in this case the driver took off as if nothing happened. The Brainerd Police Department is following up on the identity of the truck driver.