A leaking premium fuel tank was discovered mid-August behind Robbinsville Crown service station in Robbinsville, North Carolina, spilling benzene-containing fuel into the ground. A cleanup crew has tackled the issue, removing more than 2,600 gallons of gasoline from the ground, which is enough to refuel a 15-gallon vehicle tank 173 times.
“They’re continuing to do free product recovery,” Jan Anderson from the state Division of Waste Management told the Graham Star. “It’s an ongoing abatement.”
The gasoline has also contaminated both Tallulah Creek and the Cheoah River.
“The section of stream immediately downstream of the release is exceeding surface water standards for benzene and toluene,” said Landon Davidson, regional supervisor for the Division of Water Resources. “The lower section of the Cheoah River, immediately upstream of Lake Santeetlah, is intermittently exceeding the surface water standard for toluene.”
Exposure to benzene, a known human carcinogen, has been linked to serious blood diseases such as AML, MDS, lymphomas and aplastic anemia. Many people who work in industries that utilize benzene are unaware of its dangers. Toluene produces damaging effects to the nervous system and brain.
The Graham County Health Department issued a recreational use advisory for Tallulah Creek and the Cheoah River seven months ago, and it remains in effect today. The Tallulah water treatment plant located just downstream from the site of the spill remains closed.
Per Davidson, a site assessment is being conducted by state officials, who are also planning a study to assess whether or not air stripping technology would be an effective treatment of the contaminated groundwater.
Source: Graham Star