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Library diesel cleanup done

Allen County Public Library officials believe they have finally finished cleaning up more than 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel that leaked into the ground beneath the downtown library more than two years ago.

The cleanup has cost between $370,000 and $380,000, although several bills are pending, library spokeswoman Cheryl Ferverda said.

Library officials maintain the library did not cause the leak and therefore shouldn’t be ultimately liable for paying for the cleanup.

Multiple holes were drilled through the concrete floor in the underground parking garage and a nearby generator room to pump out water and fuel that collected in low spots.

The library stopped pumping last May, and many of the holes have been patched, Ferverda said.

The library applied bacteria to the area beneath the garage to help eat away at any remaining fuel and render it harmless. Water samples were taken from the holes and sent to a lab hired by the library for analysis.

The lab provided a final report in September, but the Indiana Department of Environmental Management asked for the testing to continue, Ferverda said.

The library will take its final sample in the next week or two. If the results show no signs of contamination, any remaining holes can be patched, she said.

“We think it’s finished,” Ferverda said of the cleanup. “We’re still in limbo until we’ve heard about that last sampling.”

Officials hired a forensic engineer to help determine who or what caused the leak. Several contractors that helped build the main library were involved in the probe. Ferverda said she didn’t know what the library’s next step would be.

More than 3,000 gallons of fuel leaked from an underground pipe that connected a small fuel tank to a generator. Contractors working in the generator room first discovered the leak in October 2006 – several months before the grand opening of the newly expanded downtown library.

In two instances, the tank leaked 1,600 to 1,800 gallons of fuel. The remainder leaked over time, officials have said.

Most of the fuel was found in a trench area dug during construction and later filled in with gravel. The shape of the trench and the clay soil beneath the building helped keep the fuel from leaving library property.