GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — The Germantown city employee fired after a diesel spill that contaminated the city’s water tried to appeal his termination but was denied, according to records released Wednesday.
Files show the worker was a fleet services technician in the vehicle maintenance department. He was hired in 2010 and had received several merit pay increases over the years, most recently in 2021.
According to reports, the employee was instructed to fuel the generator at the Water Treatment Plant on July 19. He “neglected” to check the generator while it was fueling, causing 250-300 gallons of diesel fuel to spill.
The employee was terminated on August 2.
According to the city, the employee attempted to appeal his termination. However, it was denied.
Germantown issued an advisory against drinking or using tap water for about 37,000 city water customers after a diesel spill traced to a backup generator was detected in the water July 20.
The city determined that the diesel spill was due in part to “human error by a tenured employee,” and a City of Germantown employee was placed on leave Aug. 1 pending an investigation.
Two days later, the city acknowledged that the employee, who was not identified at the time, had been fired.
The water advisory was lifted one week after it was issued, though some customers have continued to complain about a diesel smell in their water.
Germantown is continuing to flush and test its water system.
That flushing is causing some to smell a chlorine odor in their water more than usual, Germantown said Tuesday.
“While the smell may be strong, the amount of chlorine in the water is safe,” the city said on its Facebook page.
The link between the generator and the water system in Germantown caused some concern for Memphis Light Gas & Water, but company President Doug McGowen said Tuesday the system has been analyzed and a similar issue shouldn’t be a problem for the Memphis utility.
He said the way reservoirs and pumping stations are aligned they are physically separate from emergency generators and encased in concrete.
“We examined all of ours, we have backup generation and that is not a risk for us with our reservoirs because our reservoirs were separate and distinct from that, and our generators are not in proximity to that,” he said.