City didn’t alert residents to diesel spill in creek

The VA diesel spill after absorbent pads were thrown in the Matadero Creek. Photo from a report by Heather Malanog, a safety specialist with the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

By the Daily Post staff

When the Palo Alto VA discharged diesel into Matadero Creek, the city didn’t put out an alert to residents in the area.

“While the spill is a serious issue, there was no immediate danger to life and health that would cause a shelter in place or something of that nature that would typically trigger a community emergency alert,” city spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor said in an email. “Emergencies such as wildfire evacuation, flood evacuation, a shelter in place, or citywide utility outage, etc., are typically when we use the City’s emergency alert system.”

The city has said that the VA sent an alert to neighbors.

But the VA’s spokesman, Michael Hill-Jackson, asked neighborhood association leader John King to email the message to residents. “I have communicated with your neighborhood in the past but do not have the most up-to-date mailing list,” Hill-Jackson wrote in an email to King on May 7. Hill-Jackson said some of the VA’s “team” went out that evening to speak with residents.

1 Comment

  1. The City does this COVID electronic news letter every night and not a word about this was mentioned, though they bring up lots of City programs that have nothing to do with COVID. The argument that this spill was too small doesn’t cut it. A lot of cleanup will have to take place. The city was slow on the draw when it came to this.

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