Despite 5,000-gallon gasoline spill, Wallagrass wells showing no contamination

Posted June 03, 2011, at 6:29 p.m.

WALLAGRASS, Maine — Officials with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection continued to test wells near a gasoline spill on Route 11 on Friday, but a spokeswoman for the DEP said there has been no contamination of private water sources in the area thus far.

Samantha Depoy-Warren, DEP spokeswoman, said Friday that crews are working at the accident scene. An estimated 5,000 gallons of gasoline was spilled on Tuesday when a tractor-trailer belonging to John T. Noble of Caribou overturned after becoming unstable when it drifted close to the soft shoulder of the roadway.

The truck, driven by Joe Nichols, was hauling 8,000 gallons of gasoline for Daigle Oil Co. of Fort Kent at the time of the crash. Nichols was slightly injured in the accident and treated at a nearby hospital.

Depoy-Warren said Friday that crews have been testing an abandoned well that is right near the accident scene, and all tests have shown that the well has not been contaminated. Other private wells also are being checked.

“There is no odor of gasoline in the water, and the tests are not finding any, so that is very positive,” she said. “But 5,000 gallons of gasoline has to go somewhere. It could be in the bedrock above the water table or in another area. We are working to pull it out. Eventually, gas in the bedrock will degrade, but we are moving quickly to protect humans and the environment from a very serious spill.”

Depoy-Warren said the insurance company for John T. Noble has stepped up and hired a contractor to work on the investigation and the remediation at the site. It will be financing the work.

“Someone has to get the bill, and it is great that they have stepped up,” she said. “It is a huge benefit.”

After the crash, crews worked to control the gas vapors, and another truck arrived to pump the remaining fuel from the overturned tanker. The truck was removed from the scene by Wednesday.

Depoy-Warren said she is not sure how long crews will remain at the accident site.

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