A local painting contractor was caught by surprise by last
week’s rains, and authorities say he may be left with a large
clean-up bill.
The Windsor Fire Protection District was alerted to a paint
spill polluting a seasonal creek with a milky white substance last
Thursday at 11:30 a.m. on Skylane Boulevard in the airport
industrial area.
The polluting substance turned out to be a latex polymer roof
sealant, which was being washed by the rain from the roof of a
12,000-square-foot building in the 5600 block of Skylane Boulevard.
The roof had been painted days earlier, and officials say the storm
caught Craig Hermsmeyer, a paint contractor, by surprise.
“The paint didn’t have an adequate chance to dry before the rain
came and washed it off the roof where they had painted,” said North
Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Senior Engineer John
Short. “Painting a structure like that in the wintertime is asking
for trouble, and they got caught by surprise by the storm.”
The Windsor Fire Department, the Hazmat Division of the Sonoma
County Department of Emergency Services and the Regional Water
Quality Control Board all responded to the call, sandbagging drains
and removing polluted water from the creek.
After blocking the drains that were polluting the creek, the
Sonoma County Water Agency pumped an estimated 500,000 gallons of
water from the creek into its Airport/Larkfield/Wikiup wastewater
treatment plant, which is located very close to the spill site.
“Geographically, if it had to happen, it was a good place to
happen,” said SCWA Deputy Chief Engineer Pamela Jeane. “If it had
been remote it would have been much more difficult to respond to
and clean up. Visually it looks like we got all of it.”
With the drains sandbagged, the Windsor and Rincon Valley fire
deparment and county emergency services were still left with a
clogged parking lot that was continuing to fill with contaminated
After installing electric pumps, an 8,300-gallon storage tank
was placed onsite to collect and store the paint wastes. A vactor
truck was brought to the site to transfer waste from the storage
tank to a larger off-site storage tank. The truck transferred waste
four times during the night, removing a total of 20,000 gallons of
polluted water.
“We caught the downstream end of it,” said Captain John McGuire
of the Sonoma County Department of Emergency Services Hazmat
Division. “We’re pretty sure we caught it all.”
The seasonal creek where the paint was spilled is believed to
drain to Windsor Creek and eventually the Russian River.
According to the RWQCB, latex polymer guidelines warn that
applications should not occur when rain or foggy weather is
predicted. The period between Jan. 6, and the spill date Jan. 9 was
both foggy and rainy, with only brief periods of sun, said water
quality officials.
The spill may prove costly to Hermsmeyer Painting. “They’ll be
on the hook for these costs,” Short said.
Officials from Hermsmeyer Painting could not be reached for

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