MANCHESTER — Crews returned to Puddledock Road on Tuesday to continue cleaning up hundreds of gallons of used motor oil that spilled last week from a storage tanker.

Bob Williams, of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s response program, said crews worked throughout the weekend to remove an estimated 1,500 gallons that spilled from a J&S Oil tanker. The tanker was parked in a fenced-in parking lot adjacent to the company’s headquarters off Western Avenue.

The spill was reported around 4 p.m. Thursday when it was noticed by an employee at nearby Clark Marine.

Cleanup crews from J&S, Clean Harbors and the DEP collected contaminated soil and oil from drainage ditches throughout the weekend.

“They devised a plan quickly and they’ve executed it well,” said Clark Marine owner Rob Brown. “They’ve been here every minute since it was first reported.”

Williams said the cause of the spill isn’t known.

“We’re still trying to figure out how it got out of the tanker,” he said. “There’s no sign of mechanical failure of any sort.”

J&S President John Babb said the tanker was no longer leaking oil when the spill was reported. Babb said law enforcement is not involved in the investigation “but they may be.”

The trailer was parked in a back corner of the J&S lot near the Clark Marine property line, Williams said. Oil flowed across Clark’s property and was carried on runoff water inside a boat storage building. Oil also flowed across Puddledock Road and into drainage ditches on both sides of the road, Williams said.

Williams praised J&S’s quick response to the spill. Company employees had already laid down booms to catch the oil and had started the absorption process by they time state environmental responders arrived. J&S also immediately alerted Clean Harbors, a private company that specializes in disaster recovery, to assist in the cleanup effort. The federal Environmental Protection Agency also sent officials to the scene, Williams said.

“It will be an effective cleanup,” he said. “We never get it all, but it will be effective.”

Williams said a specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey will examine the area to determine if the spill may compromise well water in the area.

“At this point, we’re confident that’s not likely because it was contained to the surface water,” Williams said.

Crews continued to collect soil Tuesday from Clark Marine’s property. Once the containment dams are removed, which may not be for several weeks, any contaminated grass and vegetation in the ditches will be cleared away.

Babb said such large spills are “few and far between,” but not unheard of. In the past 30 years, one of the company’s tankers rolled over and there have been other, smaller, spills, he said.

The company has trained employees to deal with a large-scale incident. That training proved vital during the weekend cleanup, Babb said.

“We sprung into action right away,” he said. “We’ve been in the process of cleaning it up and we’re in the process of putting it back to the way it was originally. We’re doing all the right things.”

Clark Marine owner Brown is confident his neighbors will continue repair the damage. J&S has helped move boats to Clark Marine’s Monmouth site to help mitigate the impact on the business, said Brown.

“The folks at J&S have really gone to the limit,” Brown said. “They’ve done a good job of assisting us. I know they’re doing everything in their power to make this right.”

The Puddledock Road store has remained open, though Brown said employees and customers have had to work around the cleanup effort. He said responders have given Clark as much access to the property as possible.

Craig Crosby –621-5642

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