Oil spill leads to evacuation and cleanup efforts in Kenly

January 6, 2008 5:35:34 PM PST
Hazmat crews are still working to clean up the fuel spill in Johnston County, after a leak from a 4,000 gallon tank happened around 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

An aroma of a petroleum mixture of gas, diesel fuel and water; prompted the evacuation of several people who live near the canal the substance spilled into.

"You could smell it, the fumes and all that. But we didn't know how bad it was until we got to my cousin's house and saw it on the news," Resident Greg Hinnant said.

Authorities were concerned about the possibility of fire or explosion, due to the vapors.

"It was a stronger smell up that way, so we figured somebody must have spilled something in the canal and it drifted through," Hinnant said.

The spill came from the Etherridge Oil Company on Gardner Avenue. Representatives with the plant believe cold weather contributed to the problem.

Freezing temperatures, an official with the plant told Eyewitness News, broke a valve that was on a tank holding the liquid which flowed into a canal.

Cleanup crews are using vacuum trucks to remove the fuel from the water.

The EPA confirms there was a ruptured valve on the tank; however, a worker monitoring the cleanup will not speculate how the valve broke.

He says the machines removing the spill from the canal are very efficient, but the cleanup operation could take several days.

"If it rains, the canal backs up and the water comes up toward the ground. So I'm ready for them to clean it up now," Hinnant said.


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