Family Fare owner cited for water quality violations

Aug. 19, 2013 @ 06:15 PM

M.M. Fowler Inc., the owner of the Family Fare BP gas station where a major gas spilled occurred earlier this month, has been cited by N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources for several violations of state water quality standards.

NCDENR cited the Durham-based company for five violations including unlawful discharge of oil or other hazardous substances and failure to notify federal officials of such a discharge.

It also found that Fowler rendered nearby streams unsuitable for aquatic life, maintenance of biological integrity, wildlife, secondary recreation and agriculture and causing nearby waters to exceed permissible levels of toxic substances, namely toluene, which is produced in the making of gasoline.  

In addition, Fowler was cited for introducing oil and other deleterious substances in amounts that render waters injurious to public health and harmful to fish. 

Each violation is subject of a fine of $25,000 a day per violation.

The spill occurred Aug. 1 on the site where Hillsborough-based Bishop Construction Co., was renovating the BP station.

The construction company needed a sump pump to remove rainwater from a footing hole connected to a pipe leading to a town storm drains.

A heavy rain caused the footing hole to cave in, and falling concrete punctured a fiberglass tank containing gasoline.

The sump pump activated when the hole began to fill with gasoline and water, sending it through a pipe to the town’s stormwater drain, then into the creek.

The spill was discovered by a police officer who smelled gasoline around 5 a.m.

It’s estimated that 2,400 gallons of gasoline poured into nearby Crow Branch and Booker creeks. 

M.M. Fowler has 30 days to respond to the certified letter it received Monday from NCDENR and to answer several questions including how much gasoline was in the underground storage tank, why the pit was dug adjacent to the tank and why the sump pump was left operating overnight.

Additionally, the company has been asked to explain when it was first award of the spill, who it notified and when the notification was made and to detail what cleanup efforts were taken.