Hydraulic fluid spill spreads to pond, threatens Auburn Ravine

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A contracting crew worked Thursday to control the environmental damage from a hydraulic fluid spill that ran into an Auburn apartment complex's private pond. Work by Ranger Pipelines was focused Thursday on the Auburn Woods pond, near where the business is working on replacement of the Electric Street reservoir and pipeline. Brian Martin, Placer County Water Agency director of technical services, said agency employees were able to stop the flow from a leak from an excavator's hydraulic line before it reached environmentally sensitive Auburn Ravine. A pipe takes water from the Auburn Woods pond area under Interstate 80 to the ravine. But the fluid did reach the Auburn Woods pond and Ranger Pipelines workers were busy at the site Thursday vacuuming surface water and replacing absorbent pads. "As far as I know, it was stopped before it entered Auburn Ravine," Martin said. Martin added that much of the hydraulic fluid was contained at the Electric Street project construction site nearby. Ranger was low bidder on the $5.48 million construction project to replace a century-old inground reservoir on Electric Street. Above-ground tank construction is due to start this month and continue through next spring. The work also includes pipeline replacement along Lincoln Way, due to start this winter. Auburn Woods is located just west of the Russell Road exit off Interstate 80. A road within the complex of apartments and condominiums bisects the pond, which has a surface area of about a third of an acre. Mick Hinderman, president of the Auburn Woods II homeowners association, said residents were concerned about the safety of fish and turtles in the pond, as well as waterfowl that visit. Hinderman said the bluegills and bass at the pond appeared to be doing fine Thursday afternoon. By that time, vacuuming had sucked up much of the slick that had spread on the water surface, he said. “PCWA was all over this,” Hinderman said. “The response was fantastic.” Tony Firenzi, a senior engineer with the water agency, said no more than a gallon of the oily fluid had reached the pond. Future monitoring will be taking place at the pond and at Auburn Ravine to gauge the extent of the spill, he said.