Loud Fuel cited for a fuel spill in Oak Bluffs
An undetermined amount of gasoline spilled near Oak Bluffs Harbor Friday, but went unreported until Monday, when strong fuel smells persisted in the area and inside a nearby restaurant.
The Oak Bluffs Fire Department cited Loud Fuel, a Falmouth fuel dealer, and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a notice of responsibility to the dealer. Both actions came after town officials watched surveillance video that showed a fuel delivery truck driver leaving the filling hose unattended as fuel sprayed out of the connection for a period of six or seven minutes.
When notified Monday afternoon, the fire department conducted tests and determined there was no immediate health threat from the fumes or the gasoline soaked soil.
The delivery was to tanks owned by Oak Bluffs businessmen Mark and Mike Wallace, who own the nearby gas station and Jim's Package Store.
According to several observers who reviewed the video, it shows the delivery driver attempting to clean up the spill with paper towels or rags. The fuel appeared to soak into a narrow strip of sandy ground along the foundation of Nancy's restaurant. The fuel tank inlet is in an alley between the restaurant and Jim's.
"The first offense is $100," said Oak Bluffs Fire Chief Peter Forend. "They'll get at least a $100 fine, and that's just from us."
A manager at Loud Fuel did not return a message requesting comment.
A DEP emergency response team arrived on the Island Tuesday to begin an investigation. "DEP is called when there is a spill of undetermined amount, or more than 10 gallons," Chief Forend said.
DEP issued a notice of responsibility to Loud Fuel. A notice of responsibility is a legal action to inform a person or company of potential liabilities.
"It orders them to hire a licensed site professional to assess the situation," DEP spokesman Ed Colletta explained, "and to start cleaning it up if it's an immediate hazard, or get plans together to clean it up."
Fire personnel performed tests on tank safety systems, and determined that all alarms and systems were working properly. The chief said the Wallaces did not know there was a significant spill.