Diesel spill near Matadero Creek

The VA in Palo Alto stores diesel in these tanks. It wasn't known whether the diesel in this latest spill came from these tanks, however. Post photo.

By the Daily Post staff

Between 50 and 100 gallons of diesel fuel have spilled at the VA by the same location of a spill last year that contaminated Matadero Creek.

The diesel fuel spilled out of a storage tank and onto a concrete pad on Friday afternoon at the rear of the VA property, the city of Palo Alto said today (Oct. 19). The diesel did not reach the storm drains nor the creek, the city said.

Cleanup efforts are complete, including the removal of about five gallons of soil. Soil samples are being processed with results anticipated next week, and depending on the results, more clean-up may be needed, the city said.

Fire Battalion Chief Kevin McNally said that members of the hazmat team are investigating, and he doesn’t know how the fuel spilled.

The spill was near the generator room where 200 to 300 gallons spilled on May 6, 2021, after an emergency shut-off valve failed on a generator. Water quality in Matadero Creek tested poorly until the winter rains.

In both spills, the city waited to tell the public. The spill last year happened on a Thursday but wasn’t reported until Saturday, and the spill on Friday was reported on a Wednesday.


  1. While it’s good the fuel is apparently not in Matadero Creek as before, the city shouldn’t take this long to inform the public. But there must be follow up to ensure this is as it seems.
    That this spill is in same area as years into the Creek is shocking. The VA is out of control and seemingly still has no effective (or any?) preventive spill containment given that soil clean up was needed.
    It seems reasonable that it’s only a matter of time before there is another VA caused environmental crisis.

  2. Administrators at the VA: If you are reading this, shame on you! Take action!

    Administrators in Palo Alto government: If you are reading this, shame on you! Take action!

  3. Palo Alto VA is close to an automonous city of it’s own. They have six large fuel tanks and one smaller tank on the North-NorthWest corner in kind of a “hyphen pi III” configuration (the III shows in your photo above) near it’s generators and cooling plant. They’ve also got some of the biggest building-sized banded watertanks I’ve seen in California (what happens to those in an earthquake?). The diesel tanks have grass on one side, and while 5 gallons (think five milk jugs) of dirt for a 100 gallon spill seems unlikely, in the future they could easily build a non-porous floor with a 1 foot high containment wall around these tanks to permanently remove any potential of groundwater contamination.

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