Pictured: Gas Leak Response; Photo by Julie McClintock of the Booker Creek Watershed Alliance
CHAPEL HILL – The Family Fare BP gas station and Bishop Construction Company have been cited with five state violations and could face fines up to $25,000 as a result of the gasoline leak on August 2, state officials said.
WCHL News obtained a copy of the notice of violations addressed to Marvin Barnes, of gas station owner M.M. Fowler, and William Bishop, of the construction company, Bishop Construction, involved in the gasoline leak. The certified letter, dated August 15, was authored by Danny Smith, Regional Supervisor for the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources: Division of Water Quality.
The two parties, who will have 30 days to respond to the letter, were cited with the unlawful discharge of oil and hazardous substances; failure to give immediate notification of the spill to the state DENR; violating water quality standards; spilling other waste that impairs water; and releasing toxic substance [toluene] into the water, according to the certified letter.
DENR 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. They tested for amounts of gasoline and substances found in gasoline, such as ethanol and toluene. 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.
Smith explained 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.
Smith said fines of any amount will depend on the response of the M.M. Fowler and Bishop Construction. The certified letter asked the two companies to address details such as how much gasoline was in the tank at the time of the breach and how much was released into the water; why the sump pump were left in operation and unattended overnight; when the companies were first aware of the spill and when the appropriate parties where notified; and the cleanup and remediation efforts in the contaminated areas.