Fire Department receives praise for handling of spill

Aug. 08, 2013 @ 09:44 AM

Last week, the Fire Department received high marks for its response to a gas spill that occurred at the Family Fare BP on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The leak, which occurred Aug. 2 at the site of a renovation project at the convenience store, dumped an estimated 2,400 gallons of gasoline into nearby Crow Branch and Booker creeks. 
An official with the Environmental Protection Agency said he was impressed by the collaborative effort between the town’s Fire and Public Works departments to quickly get heavy equipment, dirt and gravel to the site to construct an underflow dam to contain the spill.
“Most fire departments would have waited for contractors to arrive and construct it,” Kenneth B. Rhame , the EPA’s Region 4 on-scene coordinator, wrote in a letter to the town. “It was evident that they had their own safety, the protection of public health, the environment and Chapel Hill Fire [Department] in mind during the response.”
Julie McClintock, president of the Friends of Bolin Creek, also credited the Fire Department with helping to minimize the damage.
“It was a terrible event to see gas in our creek, but I was impressed by our mediation effort,” McClintock said.
Crews from the Fire Department created several dams and laid absorbent booms to capture gasoline in the water.
Late last week, the town’s emergency response and public works teams continued to maintain the dams while waiting to receive the “all clear” signal from the remediation companies handling the cleanup and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which is monitoring water quality.
Town officials said the leak occurred when the contractor, Bishop Construction Co., installed a sump pump in a footing hole for a new canopy to remove water.
Rainwater rushing in displaced the gasoline in the tank and was pumped out into the creek.