After gasoline spill, Colonial Pipeline offers to connect some Huntersville households to public water

Erin Cohen (left) and Rick Lyke live in the Pavilion, about three-quarters of a mile from the spill. Their respective properties adjoin the pipeline right-of-way. “We’re looking for transparency from local, county and state officials and for the company to be held accountable,” Lyke said. (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

Five households along Huntersville-Concord Road have received offers from Colonial Pipeline to cap their private drinking water wells and connect them to a public water system, after at least 63,000 gallons of gasoline spilled in the area.

The release occurred on Aug. 14. A breach in the pipeline, which is nearly 60 years old, caused the spill. Colonial has been working since then to clean up soil and groundwater, as well as conducting monitoring.

NC Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Laura Leonard told Policy Watch that company representatives notified staff in the Underground Storage Tank Section this morning about the proposal.

Although the private drinking water wells have been sampled at least twice with no detections of petroleum or related compounds, the shallow aquifer at these properties has been contaminated at a depth of 30 feet, according to a constituent update from State Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Democrat representing Huntersville.

Colonial Pipeline could not be immediately reached for comment. A company representative is scheduled to speak at tonight’s meeting of the Huntersville Town Board at 6 p.m. It will be streamed live on Facebook.

One resident who lives south of the spill, Shannon Miller Ward, posted on Facebook that “Colonial is strongly encouraging me to allow them to cap my well and immediately connect my home to city water. I have told them that I would like to delay this for at least a few months, but ideally for a few years to see if the well will become contaminated. While not said, it was implied, in my interpretation, that I will need to accept the offer or forfeit compensation of any sort.”

Sen. Marcus wrote in her update that she and State Rep. Christy Clark spoke with Colonial last Friday. The amount of the spill is likely an underestimate, Marcus wrote, adding that company representatives said that the number is “likely to increase, perhaps significantly.”

Colonial is recovering gasoline now that it “didn’t know was there after the first 48 hours,” she wrote.

According to Marcus, the company told her it has hauled 12,881 gallons of  gasoline and 798 tons of excavated soil off site. They have also removed 2,873 gallons of water.

Colonial has completed a third round of testing of all the drinking water wells within the 2,000-foot radius of the leak, plus a few in the Pavilion neighborhood. Results of the third round of testing are being delivered to landowners in the next few days. So far, no petroleum or its compounds have been detected in the wells.

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