Cleanup continues from 2010 kerosene spill
by Anna Oakes
A June 2011 report from Raleigh-based environmental consultant Highlands Environmental Solutions found groundwater contamination at the spill site and concluded that the groundwater beneath the site has been impacted by a mixture of petroleum products over time.
The report detected petroleum constituents such as benzene, methylene chloride, naphthalene and 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene at concentrations exceeding state standards.
The consultant recommended installing four groundwater monitoring wells at adjacent properties to fully assess the extent of petroleum-impacted groundwater near the site, but obtaining permission from property owners has stalled the process.
“The plume of petroleum constituents will migrate in the direction of the groundwater flow to the south-southeast,” said Carin Kromm, regional supervisor of the state Divison of Waste Management’s Underground Storage Tank section, a part of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“It is likely that the contamination has migrated to the adjacent properties, but the only way to know for sure is to put monitoring wells in and take groundwater samples for chemical analysis,” Kromm said.
As part of the Comprehensive Site Assessment required by the UST section, the extent of the petroleum “plume” must be defined vertically and horizontally to “protect human health and the environment, and to design a cost-effective, efficient, site-specific cleanup plan,” Kromm added.
Last month, the Boone Town Council approved an encroachment agreement allowing the placement of a monitoring well in public right of way at the intersection of Buena Vista Drive and Farthing Street. But Kromm said other property owners have been reluctant to allow the installation of wells on their property.
On July 21, 2010, a kerosene spill occurred at Mountain Oil, located on East King Street in Boone, when a driver accidentally offloaded fuel to an out-of-service tank, the June 2011 report stated. The kerosene migrated under a containment wall and through the ground to a tributary of the South Fork of the New River.
The Boone Fire Department detected petroleum in the stream approximately five hours after the incident, the report said, and Mountain Oil immediately retained STAT Inc. for emergency cleanup services.
Using sorbent pads, a vacuum truck and soil excavation, 9,000 gallons of a kerosene and water mixture were recovered and transported off site, as well as 93.22 tons of petroleum-impacted soil.
Also responding to the scene was the Upper Watauga Riverkeeper Team, who documented the emergency cleanup efforts. The team noted that some crayfish and fish in Hardin Creek were killed by the kerosene but thanked Mountain Oil, STAT and the Boone Fire Department for their quick responses to the spill.
The area is located within Boone town limits and is served by the town of Boone’s water system. However, the UST section surveyed area property owners about the existence of wells on their properties and the uses for the wells. Of 20 responses, only one water supply well was said to be in use — for a laundry mat at 633 E. King St. The property owner indicated bottled water was the source of the property’s drinking water.
Arthur Lankford of Mountain Oil referred questions to Highlands Environmental Solutions. The consultant did not return a call as of presstime.