By Phillip Williams
Upshur County Judge Todd Tefteller said Friday that the leak of an estimated 36,000 gallons of gasoline which was discovered at the county Road and Bridge Department just outside Gilmer doesn’t affect public safety.
“It’s all under control,” Tefteller said in a telephone interview with The Mirror. “It looks like it’s not a catastrophe.”
The seepage is “95% contained” on county-owned property and didn’t get in the water table, the judge added. The gasoline is in red clay and dirt 7-25 feet deep, Tefteller said.
The leak at the site on U.S. 271 north of city limits occurred from a corroded metal pipe, he added.
Tefteller gave this account of how the problem was discovered, and subsequent events:
Beginning about January or early February of 2022, county officials noticed the county was purchasing far more fuel than it was using. In early February last year, officials suspected “some theft going on at R&B.”
The county thus installed some “new security measures” and began monitoring use of fuel by employee I.D. numbers. In April 2022, though, the “numbers (of gallons of fuel purchased as opposed to used) were still off,” so “we ruled out theft.”
The county thus called in a contractor to do a pressure test on fuel pumps at the department, and one gasoline pump failed, proving a leak existed. The valve was shut off, and the county notified the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
A pipeline was dug up April 14 or 15, and about 10 feet of concrete had to be “busted through” to reach what proved a corroded pipe–the site of the leak.
In order to “get our arms around the problem,” the county had ESA Consulting, LLC drill several places on the property for core samples. While the southwest side’s samples came back clean, some small “unacceptable levels” of leaked gasoline were found on the northeast side.
The best estimate is that the county lost approximately 36,000 gallons. The county’s water well on the site tested clean, however.
The county must now do its own mitigation plan, approved by the state commission, which merely consists of putting in two monitoring wells. TCEQ told the county “you did what you’re supposed to do.”
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