PHOTO: Over a period of several months, the Xtreme Express Convenience, located on Gault Ave North in Fort Payne, leaked approximately 40,000 gallons of gas into the ground. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)
By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor
FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Sometime during the last six months, approximately 40,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from the tanks at a Fort Payne convenience store, it was revealed during the DeKalb County EMA's meeting on hazardous materials within the county (video of the meeting at the bottom).
The "Xtreme Express Convenience" is located on Gault Avenue North, across from the Dollar General, and has been closed since late last year for maintenance.
"We've managed to lose 40,000 gallons of gas and don't know where it's at. We have retrieved about 10,000 gallons of that, so there is a about 30,000 gallons still missing," said Anthony Clifton, DeKalb County EMA Director.
"We don't know if it's went in the sewer system, which it very well could have," said Clifton. "Because that sounds like a lot of gas, but if you put it in little bitty increments and you spread that out over time, and you run it through the sewer system, as the sewer system runs about 1 million gallons a day."
"It very well could have ran through and we didn't pick it up," said Clifton.
While the gas may have passed harmlessly through the sewer system, it might still be under the Xtreme Express, as Clifton explained.
"Another option is, it's porous limestone, so there could be a cave somewhere down in the ground full of gasoline," said Clifton. "They had to drill down 70 feet I believe, which is what the EPA requires, and we haven't found it."
"Option three, It could have run off to somewhere else we just haven't discovered yet. It could be at 30 feet in a pocket and we just haven't found it," said Clifton.
While the gasoline is still unaccounted for and might be still underneath the surface, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is working on the problem, and the tanks have since been repaired.
"They played by the rules and they reported to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and the cost of this recovery is being paid for by the Alabama Environmental Trust Fund," Clifton said.
"It's not costing that business owner anything but loss of business," Clifton added.
One citizen asked how long how much time had elapsed between the owner noticing the problem and reporting to ADEM.
"He thought that employees were stealing gas. It took months for them to even discover there was a problem," Clifton responded.
The meeting was held as required by the Environmental Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) which was passed in 1986 by Congress to, "help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment," according to EPA.gov.
One of the main purposes of the meeting is to inform the community on hazardous materials stored within the county, as well as hazardous materials that pass through it. In the meeting, officials are also required to notify the public if any hazardous materials are missing.
Watch the Full Video: