Gasoline spill command center

A command center has been set up at the Marklesburg Fire Hall for officials from Laurel Pipeline Co., as well as cleanup crews and local, state and federal officials, to deal with the repair and cleanup of a gasoline spill that occurred with the pipeline in the area of Mountain Road in Penn Township.

Cleanup and repair work continues today in the area of Mountain Road in Penn Township after a gasoline spill was found early Monday morning.

Huntingdon County Emergency Management Agency director Joe Thompson said right now, officials from Laurel Pipeline Co., the owners of the pipeline in the area, are still trying to determine how much gasoline leaked from the pipeline.

“There is an estimate, but it’s a general estimate,” he said. “They measure it in barrels and in gallons, so right now, it’s estimated that there were hundreds of barrels, thousands of gallons spilled, but there’s a lot of work going on to pin that number down.”

Thompson said officials from Laurel Pipeline Co. said they’ve discovered the area of the leak.

“It was from a main underground transmission line,” he said. “The leak was discovered 800 feet up the mountain on Mountain Road. As soon as the leak was detected, the valves were closed to secure the leak and booms and other materials were deployed by the the first pipeline workers on the scene. Containment and cleanup crews were dispatched, and there is some contamination to the pipeline right of way.”

State Department of Environmental Protection officials have been at the site since early afternoon Monday, and as of today, they’ve been constantly assessing and have determined there’s no immediate threat to public drinking water supplies at this time.

“There are some old clay mines and wells close by,” said Thompson. “There are 20 wells within one-mile radius of the area, and company representatives and DEP officials are working to make contact with those people regarding that.”

The pipeline will remain shut down until all repairs are made and the area has been deemed safe by all officials involved in the situation.

“Product has been pulled out in the area of the pipeline,” said Thompson. “They’ve drained the pipe from the top of the mountain to the area of the leak so they can start work to get access to where the leak occurred.”

Thompson said there’s environmental monitoring taking place throughout the operation, as contractors hired to cleanup the area by Laurel Pipeline Co. have been and are placing precautionary booms as needed.

“There are a couple of small streams in the area, but they’re constantly monitoring for any potential evidence that product has made it to those streams,” he said.

Right now, Thompson said cleanup crews, as well as DEP officials, a representative from the state Emergency Management Agency, a representative from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as local officials have been there 24 hours a day since the spill occurred.

“I know there are local concerns about the situation and emergency efforts, and as a representative of the county, we are right there on site and at the command post (at the Marklesburg Fire Hall),” he said. “They’ve been open with us with information we’ve requested. Though we’re not playing a role in the actual cleanup and response, we’re there, and we have a PEMA representative there so we have another set of eyes on the scene. Our concern for this is to be handled safely and correctly for the sake of our residents.”

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