Published On: Thu, Jun 25th, 2015

Fuel spill site clean-up continues

Crews from Chris Singleton Environmental work on removing a fuel tank at Cherokee Mini-Mart on Tuesday, June 23.  (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

Crews from Chris Singleton Environmental work on removing a fuel tank at Cherokee Mini-Mart on Tuesday, June 23. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

The clean-up efforts from a fuel leak in April into the Oconaluftee River are ongoing and underground storage tanks have been removed and replaced.  Earlier, Jeremy Hyatt, EBCI Natural Resources and Construction program director, estimated that about 100 gallons of diesel fuel leaked into the river from the Cherokee Mini-Mart underground storage tanks.

“The site was contaminated, as we suspected,” said Hyatt, “and all soils are being manifested and hauled to a soil farm in Shelby, North Carolina.  The tank pit was over-excavated 18 inches below the water table to be sure all contaminants were removed.”

One of the tanks removed from the site sits on a flatbed truck.  It was later hauled to a scrapyard in Asheville.

One of the tanks removed from the site sits on a flatbed truck. It was later hauled to a scrapyard in Asheville.

Hyatt said the underground tanks were removed and replaced this past week by Chris Singleton Environmental.  “Also as suspected, the diesel tank had a hole in the bottom of the tank.  All tanks have been hauled to the scrapyard in Asheville to be destroyed.  The new tanks have been placed in the ground, and they are currently being backfilled with pea gravel (78) stone.”

Hyatt added, “A plume study will have to be completed to map where the contamination traveled, and then we will determine the method of treatment.  The continued effort of protecting the river from contamination is being conducted by Mountain Environmental.  The Tribal Office of Environment and Natural Resources (OENR) continues to provide regulatory oversight of the efforts.”

“Lastly, the water samples that were taken from the river near the site in early June show 0 percent contamination.  This is great news and shows that our mitigation efforts are really paying off.”

OENR has been involved since the beginning of the incident along with the EPA Agency Region 4 Emergency Spill Response Program and the EBCI Emergency Management Program.

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