After three weeks off chasing mystery
odors in residential homes in Barre's north end, city fire officials have
located the source of the smell. They say a significant underground leak at a
gasoline station off North Main Street is to blame.
"It is a lot of gasoline, there's
no question," said David Simendiger, who owns North End Deli Mart.
Simendinger told officials Tuesday he
was missing roughly 3,000 gallons of gasoline. He says that's the worst-case
scenario and explains the leak was caused by a mechanical failure in the gasoline
pump. A metal fitting blew off the dispenser for super unleaded, and since that
grade of gasoline is not his top seller, the problem went undetected for a few
"I want to apologize to anybody
who has been impacted by this. We're truly sorry for this incident,"
Hazmat crews are now venting
surrounding sewers by opening up manhole covers until a contactor can setup a
proper ventilation system. The gasoline leached into the soil and sewer, but
was stopped before contaminating drinking water and the stormwater system.
"Now it's investigation mode.
ECS-- the contractor-- is going to do some test bores. They are going to go
through the city and identify where the plume has gone," Barre City Deputy
Fire Chief Joseph Aldsworth said.
Officials say it's too early to
estimate the extent of contamination. Test results are expected by the end of
the week and they'll help the team determine if the area needs to be aerated or
excavated. No word on what that may cost. The good news-- although gasoline is
highly flammable, the leak never reached dangerous levels.
"Based on what we found today,
working backwards, I would say there was no risk to a fire or an
explosion," said Chris Herrick, the Vt. Hazmat chief.
Residents were warned, but no one was
evacuated. Officials say the health risks from a leak like this are also low.
"At this point in time we don't
believe there's gasoline exposures in the homes that would be responsible for
either acute effects or significant amount of chronic effect," said Dr.
William Irwin, the Vermont Radiological & Toxicological Sciences chief.
Residents of the city's
north end are encouraged to call the fire department if they continue to smell
gasoline in their homes.
A meeting is being held
Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Barre City Hall to give the public more information.
Fire officials say ANR is
investigating. The pumps were last inspected in April and they passed.