Approximately 6,000 gallons of gasoline is believed to have leaked from a vertical storage tank at Tri-State Petroleum at 98 Main Street, New Martinsville, Tuesday.
New Martinsville Fire Chief Larry Couch said the 16,000-gallon tank contained 87 octane unleaded gasoline. While they don't know how much gasoline the tank contained at the time of the incident, they do know it contained 11,000 gallons at the start of the business day.
The staging area for fuel loading is not typically manned. "One of the trucks apparently accidentally caught part of the plumbing as it was leaving the scene," said Couch. "It tore the housing for the valves away from the bottom of the tank." He said apparently the driver didn't realize he vehicle had caused damage to the three-inch valve.
The New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department responds to a leaking valve at an 11,000 gallon gasoline tank at Tri-State Petroleum Tuesday. (Photo by Amy?Witschey)
The NMVFD received the call of a fuel leak at 12:12 p.m. He does not know how long the tank leaked before the call came in.
As required by law, the area does have a dike to prevent spills outside of the area. Couch believes 1-2,000 gallons may have leaked into the ground. But the good news is they do no believe any fuel made its way to the adjacent waterways.
"To this point we haven't seen any sheen come up in Fishing Creek or the Ohio River."
The emergency responders set up a temporary chute to run the leaking fuel from the compromised tank into a portable water tank. The fuel was then off-loaded into fuel trucks. "We were able to recover over 4,000 gallons of gasoline," stated Couch.
The incident caused the evacuation of several buildings in the immediate vicinity, but caused no fire, explosion, or other known hazards. The New Martinsville Police Department evacuated, on order of Couch, five houses and several businesses including West Virginia Northern Community College.
New Martinsville Electric Department workers shut off electricity to the area and the New Martinsville Street Department closed streets in the vicinity.
The NMVFD was also assisted by the Clarington, Sardis, and Paden City fire departments. "All of the help from the neighboring communities was a true asset today," noted Couch. The entire incident lasted five hours.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and United States Environmental Protection Agency came to the scene to assure compliance and assure proper clean up. Tri-State Petroleum has contracted with Weavertown Environmental to remediate the site, which will begin this morning.
"I will be back there tomorrow conferring with WVDEP and USEPA to follow up and make sure everything is going well," said Couch Tuesday evening.