The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday April 11th

Carrboro oil spill from underground storage tank cleanup underway

Although spilled oil from an underground fuel tank in Carrboro has been contained, the clean-up effort has just begun.

Mark Powers, the underground storage tank supervisor for the Raleigh branch of the state’s environment and natural resources department, said he has been communicating with the owner of a 275-gallon subterranean fuel tank that began leaking on Tuesday.

“The property owner has hired an environmental consultant who is fixing up the booms,” Powers said. “A geologist will be out there (today) to check the infected soil.”

“They got a vacuum truck to get most of the spill, and only the residual stuff is left now.”

The Carrboro Fire-Rescue Department responded to a call placed at 8:05 a.m. Tuesday when a nearby resident smelled a chemical odor.

An underground fuel oil tank on the corner of Milton Drive and North Greensboro Street overflowed and had leaked into the surrounding area and a run-off ditch from Bolin Creek.

Fire Marshal Robert Maddry, who was on the scene until 12:30 p.m., said the tank’s fill neck was broken just above ground level, allowing rain water to build up at the bottom of the tank until the oil was pushed out.

“We identified the source of the spill around 10:30 (a.m.), but there was no additional leakage occurring,” Maddry said.

He said he and the emergency response team put down booms, which are absorbent materials in round permeable sleeves. They float on top of water and soak up petroleum products.

“And that’s all we did,” said Maddry. “We weren’t able to remediate the tank. That’s the responsibility of the owner.”

Maddry said the name of the oil tank’s owner could not be released.

He said the North Carolina Division of Water Quality will be involved with the owner in the process of cleaning up the remaining oil. While oil spills are not a common occurrence in Carrboro, there are state regulations on how oil tanks and their spills must be removed.

Powers said crews must dig out contaminated soil and remove the leaking fuel tank.

He said there are multiple fuel tanks on the owner’s property, and those will probably have to be removed as well.

“The surface is easiest to take care of, but depending on how far soil is soaked, it could take a while,” Powers said. “The river is going to be okay.

“Parking lots and streets are the bigger issue. But the vacuum truck will get the worst of it.”

Rob Crook, vice-chairman of Friends of Bolin Creek, said he believes the creek is not in danger from the spill.

He said he is more concerned that the groundwater could be in danger of contamination.

“As long as the oil doesn’t have surface flow going to the creek, then it should be okay,” Crook said.

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