Pictured: Gas Leak Response; Photo by Julie McClintock of the Booker Creek Watershed Alliance
CHAPEL HILL – We now have the official results of which areas were contaminated following the Family Fare BP gasoline leak earlier this month. The N.C. Department of Natural Resources said two of the four sites tested positive for traces gasoline and related substances.
Danny Smith, Regional Supervisor for the DENR Division of Water Resources, said his department tested the following sites: an unnamed tributary to Crow Branch near Critz Drive; Booker Creek at N. Lakeshore Drive; Eastwood Lake; and Booker Creek near Daley Drive.
“This was a way to sample the surface water to have an understanding and to demonstrate whether or not we had water violations from the spill,” Smith said.
They tested for amounts of gasoline and substances found in gasoline, such as ethanol and toulene. Smith said an unnamed tributary to Crow Branch near Critz Drive and Booker Creek at N. Lakeshore Drive registered levels of toulene that equated to a Stream Standard Violation.
“In Eastwood Lake, there was no detection, and in Booker Creek at Daely Road, there was no detection of toulene or gasoline that far down-stream,” Smith said.
Smith said when his agent was collecting the water samples, she only noted one dead fish. Neighbors, though, have reported dead fish in Ellen Lake, Crow Branch Creek, and Booker Creek.
Bishop Construction Company was doing renovation work at the BP on August 1 and needed a pump to drain the rainwater from a footing hole connected to a pipe leading to a Town storm drain. The accumulation of rainwater caused the footing hole to cave in, resulting in falling concrete, which punctured one of the fiberglass tanks below sometime in between 2 and 5 a.m. on August 2.
The breached compartment held approximately 3,200 gallons of gasoline at the time of the incident, though the full amount was not leaked. Because the pump connected to the storm drain, gasoline flowed directly into Crow Branch Creek, a feeder of Booker Creek and Eastwood Lake.
In response to the spill, the Chapel Hill Fire Department worked in conjunction with the Chapel Hill Police Department, and Orange County Emergency Services to lay booms, pads, and constructed dams which Smith said prevented the leak from having far-reaching affects.
“This spill event should be pretty well under control and there is not gas or product to remove from the spill in the stream. I would offer that as far as acute issues with respect to the spill that they should be resolved or abated,” Smith said.
Smith said the active recovery process, or the clean-up and removal of the gasoline, is done. It is his understanding that most of the under drain damns, pads and booms have been removed.
Thursday, the DENR sent a formal request to the BP station and Bishop Construction to have access to their records and information taken during the time of the leak.
“A part of what we want to do is get a response from them formally about how much product was in the tank and how much was released from the tank and their estimate of what was released from the stream,” Smith said.
Smith hopes to have an idea of how much gasoline was leaked from the tank by the end of next week.
“Their response will provide us information on making the determination of responsible parties.”
Smith said the DENR will decide if action is to be taken against the BP and Bishop Construction.