Update on gas leak probe

A community forum was hosted Wednesday evening in McCutchenville to update residents on the gasoline leak that prompted evacuations last week.

Several local, state and federal officials updated residents on the progress of the leak containment and the recovery phase. Officials also answered residents’ questions.

“They’ve done a heck of a good job,” B.J. Ford, fire chief of McCutchenville Volunteer Fire Department, said about the agencies that have been involved in the leak clean-up. “They’re doing their best to resolve this issue and make this community safe again.”

Dean Henry, public information officer for Seneca County, said the leak, which was discovered to have originated at the village’s Clark gas station and to have gotten into the storm water system, has been contained and officials now are in the recovery and remediation phases.

Air and water testing have been performed since the leak’s discovery, and will continue, Henry said.

Residents at the forum were told current test results show no contamination in the residential ground water or air. Some remediation work expected to begin today on the sewer system, however, may cause some gas vapors in homes. That same work also caused some gas vapors to be present Saturday, Henry said.

If any residents smell gasoline, they are to call 911 and leave their residence until it is tested and cleared by a firefighter or official, Henry said. To prevent the vapors from entering a home, residents should cover sumps with a garbage bag filled with water and also should cover exposed pipes and drains without traps.

“There’s really no reason why vapors should get into a home if tubs, sinks and drains are properly installed,” said Dan Stahl, director of Seneca County Emergency Management Agency.

Stahl suggested residents check their plumbing to make sure everything is “up to snuff.”

Ford said only residences south of the gas station and west of SR 53 were affected by the leak, which forced 67 people to evacuate last Wednesday. Residents returned the following day, but gasoline vapors detected the following day caused some residents to voluntarily evacuate. They’ve all since returned.

Verne Ord, who works for the State Fire Marshal’s office, told residents Wednesday that it appeared the leak at the gas station originated form a bad O-ring. He said it looks as if the leak has been present for a while.

“We’re still trying to put the final pieces together of how gas left the site,” he said.

Ord said the owner of the gas station was in compliance, but because of the leak, will be upgrading the system.

Jon Gulch, who represented the U.S. EPA Wednesday, said as a way of ongoing monitoring, the EPA will be placing sample canisters in residences to make sure there are no lingering gasoline vapors.

There was a brief question-and-answer session at the end of the forum.