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Trinity Lutheran Church in Easthampton in midst of expensive cleanup after oil spill

Fire Chief David A. Mottor said the spill Feb. 4 flooded the basement with 20 to 40 gallons of fuel oil that has apparently soaked into the soil below. It is being cleaned up by workers from Western Mass Environmental.

The Clark Street church is without a permanent pastor and church officials reached by phone declined to comment.

Mottor said the fire department got a call about a hazardous material spill Feb. 4 at noon and responded to assist a contractor in soaking up the spill.

“It was a furnace problem — it didn’t ignite but it kept pumping oil,” Mottor said Thursday. “It came out of the furnace room and into the hallway. It was a real mess.”

Firefighters and the contractor used absorbent pads and powder to soak up the oil. Mottor said he reported the spill to the Department of Environmental Protection and experts arrived within an hour to inspect the spill and make sure it did not get into the soil or outside of the building.

“They gave the church guidelines for cleaning up and about how to make sure the oil doesn’t get out of the building,” he said. “Like if it got through the floor, they’d have to jackhammer it up.”

According to the church’s March newsletter, core samples taken below the boiler room indicated that oil had contaminated the soil, so it has to be removed. The basement floor tiles and the boiler have also been removed.

Church officials have been working with Richard’s Plumbing and Heating of Northampton, according to the newsletter. A truck from Western Mass Environmental, a hazardous waste transporter from West Springfield, has been pumping something out of the church basement through a large tube every morning this week.

Mottor said that soil, tiles or anything else contaminated with oil is considered hazardous waste and is very costly to clean up. “A scenario like that could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up,” he said.

The newsletter states that worship services have continued despite the spill.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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