CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) - About 500 gallons of kerosene spilled at the Scotchman gas station in Carolina Beach on Thursday night, and more than 200 gallons entered storm drains then the yacht basin waterway.
The incident happened at about 7 p.m. when the vendor was delivering fuel, according to Carolina Beach Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin. Canal Drive by the marina and Scotchman had to be closed during cleanup, but re-opened 4 p.m. Friday.
Right after the spill, Carolina Beach Police and the public works department put out booms to contain the kerosene until the company could call in professional help.
GPM Investments, the company that owns the Scotchman chain, called in HERR Emergency Spill Response (Hazmat Emergency Response and Remediation, Inc.).
A manager with HERR said cleanup efforts began at 8 p.m. Thursday after “something busted” while a tank was being refueled.
The clean-up efforts, lasting about 20 hours until 4 p.m. Friday, included skimming the water, pads to soak up the kerosene, and booms to contain and absorb the spilled fuel in the water.
Even after the three clean-up crews left Friday, the smell of kerosene lingered in the air by the yacht basin and a shiny layer of kerosene could be seen on the water.
Aerial drone video posted by Clouds View Photography show the layer of kerosene reached to about the 800 block of Canal Drive.
“It’s all you can smell here now, and it’s horrible,” said Joe Wescott who lives near the yacht basin. “We’ve got a sea turtle that’s old that lives right up in here. We’ve got old pelicans that right here in the basin, in the canal, and it’s just sad.”
According to Parvin, the vendor responsible has called the national response center and state emergency response, which usually triggers a federal response with the Coast Guard. Parvin said he doesn’t know specifically what caused the spill.
After WECT reached out to the company that owns Scotchman, GPM Investments released a statement about the spill:
“Last night there was a release of Kerosene at the Scotchman® located on Canal Drive, which occurred during a delivery," said Chris Giacobone, chief operating officer of GPM Investments. “Upon noticing the release, the driver of the delivery truck stopped the delivery and immediately notified the proper parties. Scotchman and the third-party transportation company initiated emergency response service providers to contain the spill and are continuing the work to clean all impacted areas. We appreciate the quick response from the fire department, U.S. Coast Guard, local police and our other response partners. If you were impacted by this release, please contact Scotchman’s risk management department at 804-730-1568 ext. 1129.””
Jeremy Thomas, a Coast Guard officer, said more than 9,000 gallons of an oily water mixture have been recovered and freshwater flushing the stormwater system is planned to make sure no fuel is trapped.
Officer Thomas said the company will likely face a fine, but the investigation is ongoing. Thomas said as of Friday afternoon, they had not received any reports of damage to wildlife.
“It sounds like the company did a really good stop of containing the spill before it could get very far,” Thomas said. "Mother Nature is good at getting rid of that on its own.”
Wescott has lived near the basin for 10 years and saw the spill and cleanup process while he was out walking his dogs.
“The fishing industry, everything depends on clean, beautiful, clear water," Wescott said. "It’s horrible, it’s not good and I’m not very happy about it.”