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Fuel leak occurs at Colonial Pipeline facility

A fuel leak from an underground pipeline located at the Mitchell Junction tank farm in Columbia May 3 resulted in emergency service personnel from Cumberland County, Powhatan County and Goochland County working 28 consecutive hours to repair the leak, Cumberland’s Fire and Emergency Management Services (EMS) Chief Tom Perry and Colonial Pipeline Spokesman Stephen Baker confirmed.

Perry discussed the incident during the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors meeting.

“We had a pretty major incident last week involving all of the agencies in Cumberland County, all of the volunteer agencies, as well as Powhatan County, Goochland County, the department of emergency management, the department of environmental quality and the (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” Perry said.

Baker, director of communications and public affairs at Colonial Pipeline, said in a statement that a gasoline leak  was reported at the facility May 3.

“On May 1, workers at Colonial’s tank farm in Columbia, reported seeing a light sheen on a retention pond within the facility,” Baker said in a statement. “Colonial shut down its pipelines at the location while it investigated the source.” “On May 3, Colonial discovered a gasoline release within its facility and completed a repair. Before excavating the suspected release site, Colonial requested the fire department’s assistance to monitor conditions and help ensure a safe working environment.”

“We appreciate their help as well as the ongoing partnerships we have with all of Cumberland County’s first responders,” Baker said.

Perry estimated that crews were working at the site for 28 consecutive hours.

Perry said while the incident was “significant in nature,” the incident did not pose a threat to residents surrounding the site.

“While it was significant in nature and the potential was there, the citizens were not in any harm,” Perry said. “If so we would have done a mandatory evacuation and we would have contacted them personally. We did not feel the need to do anything at that time.”

“I want to rest everybody’s mind that everything was under control,” Perry said.

District One Supervisor William “Bill” Osl asked Perry what systems are in place to notify surrounding citizens of any emergency situation.

Perry said the county uses a regroup system, which sends mass notifications in the event of emergencies. He noted it was similar to the code red system that the county previously operated.

Residents can sign up for the emergency notification by going online at www.cumberlandfireems.org/alert-system.html. He said in the event that residents do not have internet access, Perry can be reached by phone at (804) 492-3800 ext. 1021 or residents can contact the administrator’s office at (804) 492-3625.