Malfunctioning valve causes fuel spill in Juneau office building

Posted: Monday, December 18, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A malfunctioning valve sent fuel cascading down the walls of an eight-story state office building on Sunday.

The spill occurred at the Court Plaza Building when the valve failed to shut off the line carrying fuel from the ground to a 50-gallon day storage tank on the top of the building, said Bob King, a spokesman for Gov. Tony Knowles.

King said building security notified state officials of the problem at about 3:30 a.m. Capital City Fire and Rescue were called to the scene.

Between 100 gallons and 200 gallons of diesel fuel spilled down an elevator shaft, a stairwell, and saturated office walls and carpeting, while filling the building with noxious fumes.

George McCurry, buildings maintenance manager for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said the main problem was not the amount of fuel spilled but how it had seeped into the walls.

''It will take a very serious cleanup effort,'' McCurry said. ''The odor is the thing.''

King said the building's approximately 140 employees were told not to show up for work on Monday and Tuesday.

''I think the walls, the carpet, will all have to be taken care of,'' he said.

An employee with the office of Occupation Safety and Health in Anchorage was expected to take a measurement of the fumes Sunday night, said Bob Doll, director of the Southeast Regional office of DOT.

''It is not a lot of fuel but apparently has gotten in the spaces between the floors and the walls of the building,'' he said.

The Department of Environmental Conservation was notified that about five gallons spilled outside the building.

The Court Plaza Building was bought by the state in 1994. It houses mostly state offices, including the Division of Elections, the Division of Corrections and the governor's Office of Management and Budget. A credit union, a lobbyists' firm and the Juneau bureau of The Associated Press also are located in the building.

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