ADEM: Fuel leaked for over two months; contaminated groundwater

ADEM: Fuel leaked for over two months; contaminated groundwater

PHOTO: The Xtreme Express Convenience is located on Gault Avenue in Fort Payne. 

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

FORT PAYNE, Ala. According to records obtained from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), it’s estimated that 42,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from the Xtreme Express Convenience on Gault Avenue in Fort Payne in a period of two months.

The convenience store reported that it lost 15,977 gallons of fuel in September and roughly 16,000 gallons in October (the exact numbers weren’t available for October). The leak was not reported until a routine inspection on November 7, after another 11,000 gasoline had leaked during the month of November, the documents reveal.

According to the records from ADEM, the tanks were installed in 1990. Three underground tanks exists at the property; one 10,000 gallon tank and two 8,000 gallon tanks, with the 10,000 gallon tank storing regular unleaded, and the others containing mid-grade and premium.

As stated in the report filed in November, electronic line leak detectors failed in early July in both the unleaded and mid-grade tanks. While the mid-grade was taken out of use, the unleaded tank was still in use, despite failing 3 leak tests.

In the documents from ADEM, the situation was classified as, “free product (gasoline) is present on the groundwater, at ground surface, on surface water bodies, in utilities other than water supply lines, or in surface water runoff.” In the result of exposure assessment, the leak was marked as, “underground utilities impacted or immediately threatened.

According to tests conducted, several samples of groundwater showed high concentrations of gasoline. CDG Engineering conducted the recovery efforts, and bored a number of holes to locate the gasoline, and determine the depth and flow of the missing fuel. Traces of gas were not found until depths of 34 - 38 feet in some of the holes, where groundwater was also present at roughly the same depth or below.

The leak was first announced in a Right-to-Know meeting held by the DeKalb County Emergency Management agency, which is required by the Environmental Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

While the recovery and repairs are expensive, the State of Alabama is footing the bill. ADEM estimates that the full repair and recovery operations will cost $750,000 and costs associated with the leak had already reached $272,053.26 as of a report January 12, 2017.