Update of Environmental Incident

Posted: January 21, 2015 at 8:32 pm

Dear Patriots,

We want to update you on the cleanup efforts of the diesel fuel oil overflow that happened during a maintenance operation of holding tanks at George Mason University’s Central Heating and Cooling Plant on Saturday.

The fuel oil was contained on the Fairfax Campus. An emergency contractor currently is removing contaminated soil, doing a controlled flush of the storm sewer system and drainage ditch, and using absorbent materials to further remove any oil.

You’ll see emergency contract workers and Mason staff working behind the Shenandoah Parking Deck, HUB, and behind the central heating plant doing cleanup. This phase should be completed by early next week. It appears the oil did not affect people or wildlife.

If you smell oil near the walkways in the Shenandoah Parking Deck area or along Shenandoah River Road, it’s because fuel oil is pungent in small concentrations that are well below health concerns. Also, it’s possible you could see an oil sheen in the drainage ditch and creek bed. If you have any questions about exposure, please contact Mason’s Environmental Health and Safety Office at safety@gmu.edu or 703-993-8448.

Once the emergency phase is complete, we will begin work on the remediation. We are working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to make sure the oil is removed and taking steps to prevent overflows from happening in the future.

We take our environmental stewardship seriously and will do everything we can to remediate this incident in a timely manner.

Thomas Calhoun
Vice President of Facilities

Julie Zobel
Assistant Vice President, Environmental Health and Safety