Year after year, we see the same issues related to leaks and spills. Here are tips for dealing with them.

Gray and black water spills — How will you dispose of the gray water from your kitchen and shower? If you’re in a small camp, with minimal dish-washing and body-washing water, we have tips to treat your gray water. Depending on how much you generate, options include small footprint evaporation ponds, disposing at off-site RV dump stations, or contracting with United Site Services for onsite pumping. Camps that have grey/black water tanks pumped by USS should assume their tanks will be pumped a day later than expected and plan accordingly. (Delays happen on the playa.)

If you see a leak or spill, do the following:

  • Stop causing it. No more showers, toilets, dish washing, or baths until you fix it. 
  • Contain it. Use a bucket to collect the leaking fluids and contaminated playa. If the contaminated playa fits in a five-gallon bucket, dig up the soil and dispose of the bucket off site.
  • Fix it. If your spill is due to a crack or other malfunction, you may have to stop using your tanks. If it’s just overfilled, get your tank pumped by United Site Services. You can flag down a truck on site: the RV trucks that can help have a special flag marked with “RV.” Do not attempt to flag down the pumper trucks that are meant for the public porta-potties.
  • Get help! A black water spill over 25 gallons is considered an environmental emergency. If something is not easily cleaned up or is actively spilling with no way to stop, immediately find someone with a radio or go to any Ranger or ESD station. 

Vehicle Leaks — Engine fluid leaks are common, especially in older vehicles and RVs. Check under your vehicle daily. If your vehicle is leaking, dig up the contaminated playa, contain it for disposal off-site, fill in the hole, and use a drip pan, tarp, rug, plywood, or anything that can be secured to the ground to catch the fluids.

Fuel Spills — Fuel expands with heat, so never fill your fuel containers past 80%. All containers, regardless of size, must be stored within “secondary containment” basins. These basins must be sturdy and capable of holding 110% of the volume of the largest single fuel container stored within it. Participants using fuel in an art installation or storing fuel in camp must comply with best practices. Never place your fuel containers directly onto the playa, even temporarily! Plan ahead to unpack your containment basins before unpacking your fuel so you can unload directly into them. 

Spill size matters — If the spill and contaminated playa fits in a five-gallon bucket, dig it up, put it in a container and take it home with you. If it’s bigger than that, get help. Find someone with a radio or go to any Ranger or ESD station. BRC has teams that can handle any spilled substance.

Questions about fuel? Contact