Fuel spill kit innovation implemented

  • Published
  • By Airman Christina Bennett
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
“It was about 45 minutes after midnight and close to 20 degrees in the middle of February. A team of maintainers were nearly finished putting fuel in a B-1, when the aircraft experienced a fuel system failure.” 

Kevin Goyer, described the morning of Feb. 12, 2016, when approximately 7,700 gallons of fuel was spilled. The maintainers did their best to contain the fuel spill but quickly ran out of equipment. 

“About the only thing they had were these bushel-basket sized response kits. They had about two dozen of those and completely emptied them out. They were designed for much smaller spills,” said Goyer, a 28th Civil Engineer Squadron water quality program engineer. 

The February 2016 spill was the largest Ellsworth Air Force Base had experienced in 20 years, but the base had also experienced spills of roughly 1,000 gallons at least once a year since 2012.

Maintainers would try to stop the fuel flow by opening a panel and placing empty fuel containers underneath the leak, but this was a messy solution. 

Goyer knew that the cleanup methods, equipment and training needed to be improved. With help from members of the 28th Maintenance Group, he developed what he calls the SpillRaider – a flight line fuel spill trailer equipped with the supplies needed to contain and clean up a large fuel spill. 

The kit is designed from a recycled oil trailer. The oil tank is removed from the deck of the trailer and replaced with a steel storage chest and two large, heavy-duty plastic storage chests. The steel storage chest – the Jobox – contains a 50 gallon per minute air-operated, fuel pump and two 20-foot fuel recovery hoses.

Goyer credits Staff Sgt. Matthew Stainbrook, a 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, for giving him the idea to use the fuel recovery pump. 

“On one spill, I saw [Stainbrook] using a pump, an air compressor and a mobile tank to recover the spilled fuel,” said Goyer. “I set about to acquire this equipment and get it to the maintenance folks. I needed to work with [the 28th Maintenance Group] to ensure success.”

Members of the 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management team helped Goyer specify the correct pump system for fuels and build two working pumps.

An air compressor, commonly used by the maintainers, is needed to feed air into the pump. The fuel recovery suction hose connects to the low side of the pump and takes in the spilled fuel. The fuel recovery discharge hose is positioned to the high end of the pump and discharges the fuel into an empty fuel container or drum. 

The pump makes the cleanup process faster, more efficient and cost effective.

“Prior to the pump, we were using absorbents; once the absorbent is soaked, it is placed into a drum and sent off for disposal,” said Goyer. “Spill cleanup is very expensive: the absorbents cost about $3 per gallon absorbed; drums cost $100 each; waste disposal costs about $14 per pound; and soil disposal costs roughly $60 per ton.” 

The SpillRaider can help offset some of those costs while providing safety equipment to the Airmen.

In addition to the pump, the trailer includes 642 gallons worth of absorbents, two patio brooms, a dustpan and enough personal protective equipment for 12 people. 

Essentially, a maintainer can roll the SpillRaider trailer to a site and have everything they need to quickly clean up a spill. 

“It is one less thing for them to worry about,” said Goyer. “I’d rather they focus on important things like putting aircraft in the air.”

Goyer, along with Staff Sgt. Neal Larson, the 28th AMXS unit environmental coordinator, presented the converted trailers to the Wing Innovation Council in April 2018. Shortly after, Goyer and Larson were provided with $48,000 for supplies and equipment.

The plan is to have six SpillRaider trailers operational by the end of October 2018. The trailers have already been delivered to the 28th AMXS and are being prepped for use. The SpillRaider II, a larger model equipped with a 100 gallon per minute, air-operated fuel pump, has been built and is ready for use by the 28th CES. 

Goyer admitted that he is always looking for ways to enable the mission.

“I spent the last two years developing this project,” he explained. “We have demonstrated that the need has existed for much longer. It was my duty to fix this problem and a privilege to work with the many people in [the 28th] MXG and the 28th Mission Support Group who helped me formulate and execute the concept. “