Part of state building opens

Posted: Thursday, December 21, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Alaska State Employees Federal Credit Union reopened its branch Wednesday in the state-owned Court Plaza Building, sealed since a fuel spill early Sunday.

However, most floors of the eight-story state office building will remain closed at least through Friday as cleanup crews haul out carpeting and other debris soaked in diesel.

Brad Thompson, director of the state Risk Management Division, said the damage apparently is limited to a stairwell and some women's bathrooms near the west wall.

State safety inspectors allowed the credit union to resume operations on the building's ground floor, which was not damaged in the spill. However, since the ground floor still smells of diesel, the credit union will open to the public in spurts to allow its six employees a break from the fumes.

''We wanted to go in and make sure the smell was not going to affect any of the staff. It's like being in a gas station -- sometimes people get headaches around it, sometimes they don't,'' said Sharon Kelly, chief executive officer the credit union, the building's largest private tenant.

State officials late Tuesday instructed employees to remain on paid leave while they search for alternate office space. The building houses about 140 workers.

Diesel spilled early Sunday after a float valve on a rooftop fuel tank failed, causing the tank to overflow. The state estimates 100 to 200 gallons of diesel seeped into the building, soaking carpet, walls and other materials.

The building's main fuel tank under the structure holds 3,000 gallons of diesel. The main tank pumps heating oil up eight floors to a 50-gallon day tank on the roof, which feeds two boilers there, said building maintenance manager George McCurry, who helped maintain Juneau's major state buildings until November.

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