As I came back home today, I have found patches of oil along the alley, over the entry door, and many of my plants, mostly succulent plants. I'm not much worried about the fruit trees, because their response is fast enough, and they can re-grow new leaves instead of the ones damaged by the oil.

After a short inquiry, I have found-out that some construction work was going on. A truck was unloading some building materials next to my entry. During the unloading process, the hydraulic system operating the lever has bursted, spilled oil and sprayed the rest over a long radius.

Is it ok to leave the spray? I would not use detergents to take it off, as this may cause more damage. The oil does not evaporate, but will the sun's radiation do the work and break-up the material? What is the safest way to remove it without damaging the plants?

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    Well, if somebody sprayed my property with hydraulic oil, they would be looking at a very big insurance claim for cleaning and/or resurfacing the alley, redecorating the house, etc - so the cost of a few plants would be a rounding error! (And if it was done by somebody who was uninsured, at least in my country they would be expecting a court case for causing criminal damage). – alephzero Mar 17 '19 at 12:10
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    Your plants may be gone. My one experience with hydraulic fluid was not good. I was having work done at my house and the excavator had a hydraulics leak, which dripped onto my lawn. Over the next week or so, the patch of lawn that had been dripped onto died. It took over two years for anything to grow in that spot. That was 20 years ago, so maybe the toxicity of hydraulic fluid has changed, but I would not count on that. Alephzero is right - get photographs of everything that has been oiled (the alley, buildings, etc.), then wait for your plant to die and contact the construction company. – Jurp Mar 17 '19 at 12:47
  • If you're in the US, you'll probably be ignored unless you get a lawyer, unfortunately. – Jurp Mar 17 '19 at 12:50

There are special soaps to deal with plant diseases, so may try to use them for washing. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insecticidal_soap)

Also, mineral oil is used to kill plant-eating mites (and not the plants), so they may survive.

Dishwashing liquid is also OK to most plants.

Anyway, even while you are trying to save the succulents, claim your damage.

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  • I will use dilute water solution as precaution. My main concern is about plants with waxy coating on their leaves, such as Echeveria, Graptopetalum and Pachyphitum. Meanwhile, I'm observing the effects as I don't want the oil go down to the roots. – Christmas Snow Mar 18 '19 at 14:05

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