How Should Gas Station Managers Deal with Fuel Spills?


Anyone who runs a gas station knows that accidents happen, and it’s nearly impossible to prevent every fuel spill. As long as the station is prepared with a spill kit, it’s usually not a big deal to get everything cleaned up safely.

If the spill is large, the best solution is always to call in an urgent spill response team. Otherwise, make sure all of the establishment’s employees know how to follow the basic spill clean-up steps below.

Step One: Check for Hazards

If there are any objects that could create a spark near the fuel spill, the first step is to remove them. Since most fuel spills occur outdoors at the pumps, there’s generally no need to worry about ventilation. If, however, fuel or another type of automotive fluid spills inside the gas station, it’s important to open the windows and doors and ensure adequate ventilation.

Step Two: Stop the Spread

The next step is to make sure the spill is completely contained. If there is still fuel pouring from a pump, jug, or tank, it will likely need to be addressed by an emergency response team. Otherwise, lay an absorbent material down around the edges to keep the fuel as contained as possible until it can be cleaned up.

Step Three: Absorb the Spill

The gas station should be equipped with an easy-to-apply absorbent material. Most gas station owners and managers choose kitty litter, but any type of absorbent material will do. After a spill, the material should be left in place for at least 20 minutes to soak up as much fuel as possible.

Step Four: Remove the Material

Once the absorbent material has soaked up the fuel, an employee can sweep it into a dustpan with a broom. Make sure the worker tasked with performing these vital jobs is equipped with safety gear such as gloves and a mask. Exposure to fuel and other automotive fluids can be dangerous.

Step Five: Dispose of the Material

The soiled material can be disposed of in an ordinary waste disposal unit. However, it’s important to make sure there aren’t any heated objects or items that could create a spark before introducing the gasoline-impregnated material. It could still be ignited unexpectedly.

Step Six: Get Cleaned Up

Once the spill has been contained and cleaned up, make sure the employee tasked with this important job does the same. Have the person dispose of gloves and masks in a waste bin and wash his or her hands thoroughly before returning to work.

Know When to Call the Pros

Cleaning up minor fuel spills is a job that can be performed by most able-bodied gas station attendants. Only professional spill response teams should be tasked with cleaning up large fuel spills and addressing ongoing issues.

If the spill cannot be easily contained using a basic absorbent material, the source of the spill cannot be determined, or the flow of fuel onto the ground can’t be stopped, the situation is more serious. Gas station owners and managers should have the number for an emergency response team on hand and should shut down the station to customers until the situation has been resolved.


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