By Kent Berkley
Clean up crews are still at work trying to clean up a spill that occurred after a hydraulic hose on an overhead crane at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding malfunctioned and spewed 50-100 gallons of fluid onto the shipyard, abutting sidewalk, street and residential houses on North 3rd Avenue. A homeowner, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, pointed out areas of her home and garage that were sprayed with the fluid carried by the wind. She stated that as of Thursday morning she had been visited three times on matters relating to the clean-up efforts. She was initially visited by a representative of Bay Shipbuilding who informed her of the clean- up plan. The plan included contracting with a professional restoration cleaner to address the fluid stains on her house and garage and a promise to reimburse the cost of a car wash to clean the vehicle that was affected. The homeowner reported that she believed people were acting in good faith to remedy the situation but is concerned that some of the fluid stains are still visible even after completing two sessions of professional cleaning. Discussing clean-up plans, a Bay Shipbuilding employee anonymously complained that vehicles were sprayed and “the company only offered one free car wash” as a response. Ryan Billingham, Communications Director of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, says that proper clean up in these type of situations can only occur after a credible assessment of the damage is completed.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, it is difficult to ascertain the degree of health risk associated with exposure to hydraulic fluids because the fluids are of different types and are made up of different chemical additives which may be the cause of some of the hazardous effects reported on humans, animals, and the environment. Attempts to reach Bay Shipbuilding to determine the exact type and chemical makeup of the hydraulic fluid that was spilled have been unsuccessful.