Gas station, construction company cited in Chapel Hill spill

tgrubb@newsobserver.comAugust 19, 2013 

— State officials cited the owner of the Family Fare BP gas station and a construction company Monday for five violations after an Aug. 1 gasoline spill.

Marvin Barnes, of gas station owner M.M. Fowler Inc., and William Bishop, of W.L. Bishop Construction were notified by certified letter that the accidental spill at 1201 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. violated state law and administrative codes.

They were cited with the unlawful discharge of oil and hazardous substances; not providing immediate notification of the spill to the state Division of Water Resources, part of the N.C. Division of Environment and Natural Resources; violating water quality standards; spilling other waste that impairs local waterways; and releasing toxic substances.

The spill occurred when heavy rain caused part of a construction pit around the tank to collapse, releasing 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of gas, state officials said. Some of the gas was discharged into a stormwater pipe and nearby Crow Branch Creek between 2 and 5 a.m. The remainder stayed in the pit or was absorbed into the soil. Two of four sites tested following the spill – Crow Branch Creek behind the gas station and Booker Creek at North Lakeshore Drive – showed contamination, officials said.

Danny Smith, DWR’s water quality regional supervisor, said in the letter that the men will have 30 days to respond to the violations. The letter asks them to specifically address how much gas was released; how much was drained into the pit, the soil and the creek; why the pit and sump pump were left operational and unattended overnight; when the companies first saw the spill and notified authorities; the cleanup and disposal process; and follow-up testing and remediation steps.

The companies could face fines of up to a $25,000 a day per violation, depending on their response to the state’s letter, Smith said.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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