There should be no long-term impact from Saturday’s gasoline leak south of Gerald, MO, that released more than 250 barrels, or 10,500 gallons, of fuel.
The gasoline pipeline leak was at an unmanned station south of Gerald on Highway H near Champion City Road, said Jim Sieck, director of engineering, health, safety, security, and environment with Explorer Pipeline.
Cleanup crews already have picked up more than 10,000 gallons of gas using high-powered vacuum equipment as the work to clean up the area continued, he said.
“As soon as we got the call, we shut down the entire pipeline and isolated that station,” Sieck said. “We got it stopped before it reached any streams or drainage ditches.”
Gerald-Rosebud fire crews were dispatched at 10:45 a.m. to the area after reports of gasoline odors, said Aaron Aitch, field operations officer with the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency.
“A resident stepped outside and smelled a strong odor that appeared to be gasoline,” he said. “Gerald (fire) arrived and did an assessment of the situation. They discovered that gasoline was coming out of the ground from a pump station down into a wooded area.”
Emergency responders knew there was a 24-inch pipeline that runs south of Gerald but were unsure of how and where the break occurred, Aitch said.
He said HazMat crews from area departments, including Washington, Union and St. Clair, went to the scene to assist. The Gerald Area Ambulance District and Franklin County Sheriff’s office also assisted.
“Fortunately there weren’t any homes immediately downhill of the incident but we definitely wanted to play it safe,” Aitch said. “With gas fumes, any ignition source could create a combustible environment.”
Explorer Pipeline representatives were contacted and quickly shut down the pipeline, he said.
“In the meantime, emergency response units were trying to contain as much of the product and keep it from becoming a major health hazard to people and maintaining as much property as well,” he explained. ”It is always a concern about it getting into waterways or to livestock in the area.”
“We had to stop the flow and try to contain the product as quickly as possible,” Aitch said. “To our knowledge none got into the waterway or became a problem for any homes in the area.”
Fire crews applied a foam to suppress the vapors, which is standard practice for ignitable liquid, Aitch said.
Residents in the area were voluntarily evacuated to Gerald Elementary with the assistance of Gerald police. Traffic was rerouted around the area as crews worked to clean up the gasoline.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S, Department of Transportation, which regulates interstate pipelines, also were notified of the gasoline leak.
The pipeline leak occurred inside the pump station, Sieck said.
“The pipeline is still shut down until we get back to the point where we can safely operate it,” he said. “Our emphasis is safety No. 1, and picking up the fuel that got out.”
Tulsa, OK-based Explorer Pipeline operates a 1,830-mile pipeline that transports gasoline, diesel, fuel oil and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest. It provides refined petroleum products to more than 70 major cities in 16 states.