SAN ANTONIO -- Crews worked against the clock to cleanup a fuel spill in the San Antonio River Saturday morning.
Steven Schauer with the San Antonio River Authority told KENS 5 teams had responded to a spill of unknown quantity near the Calumet refinery plant around 8:30 a.m.
According to SARA, workers were filling a train car with jet fuel when the spill happened. Schauer said officials were initially told only one barrel of fuel spilled. Later, that number shot up to roughly 1,100 gallons.
We don't know exactly how much spilled and how much of it may have escaped from the Calumet property, said Schauer. We have emergency-spill kits in the area, for such events, and our personnel are on site and have responded.
There is a small tributary east of the San Antonio River, near the plant. That is where crews installed the spill kits.
There is some contamination in the tributary and about 50 yards of the San Antonio River has a sheen of contamination, Schauer said.
SARA officials said Calumet workers thought the spill was contained to the refinery's property, which is why they didn't immediately inform anyone Friday night.
We were notified at about 8:30 a.m., about a strong odor in the river area by a pedestrian, Schauer explained. We had staff on site. They agreed there was something that needed to be investigated.
Park police were called to the scene at 8:45 a.m. About 45 minutes later, Calumet confirmed some fuel had escaped from their property.
Calumet estimates that less than 100 gallons leaked from its refinery, according to SARA.
Cleanup crews set up booms and pads along the contamination area to help get the fuel out of the water. Booms contained the fuel spill and stopped it from flowing further south. Pads were used to soak up the spill.
Vehicle traffic was diverted from Mission Parkway, between Espada and Acequia parks, to help facilitate the cleanup. The area will remain closed Saturday and Sunday to allow the trucks to access the area safely, officials said.
The Mission Reach hike and bike trail is open to pedestrian traffic, but cars have been asked to park off site. The river south of Espada Park is also closed to paddling until further notice, according to SARA.
A San Antonio Fire Department hazmat crew was also called to the scene, as was a private remediation firm to vacuum up the remaining fuel.
Schauer said there have been two fires at the Calumet refinery in the past.
On March 5, there was another major spill of jet fuel that took several days to clean up.
We have higher expectations of the facility, said Schauer. That they will exercise more precautions and that their activities will not endanger the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River.
Schauer said SARA would continue to work with the refinery, but explained how the plant needs to pay closer attention to these important issues.