A gallon jug of coolant was recently spilled on our street corner. I contacted the city, but they were unresponsive. By now, most of the spill has been washed away by rain. I was mainly wondering what steps I should take if this ever happens again.
An abandoned and/or improperly disposed jug of coolant is usually not considered hazardous waste, under the applicable regulations. In your situation, calling the city was a good decision. In most cities, the public works/street department is willing to help with such situations. Most metro counties also have environmental departments that may provide guidance or assistance. The city might respond by picking up the jug before it spills and disposing of it properly or, if it had spilled and puddled, perhaps putting some sand down to absorb the fluid. But the reality is that small spills like the one you describe happen frequently, and the risk they pose is small enough that they may not be a priority for response.
You are also welcome to call the State of Minnesota’s Duty Officer at 651-649-5451. The Duty Officer would take a report and forward it to the appropriate agency to address. Calling the Duty Officer is particularly critical if you witness large spills of chemicals or other hazardous material.
“Ask the MPCA” features questions the agency has received on topics we work on, from waste disposal, water and air quality, and chemicals in products to recycling and reuse, contaminated sites, and septic systems. If you have a question for MPCA staff, submit it via our website.