Gasoline leak causes tap water odor

Sept. 10, 2015

Water taps were shut off after testing discovered carcinogenic benzene, toluene and xylene at nearly 100 times the recommended limit.

CALGARY, Alberta — Sept. 10, 2015 — A leak below a gas pump caused at least 25,000 liters of gasoline to seep into the ground, according to

The leak was discovered by a city safety officer who noticed a strong odor after stopping at the Fastop Esso gas station, noted the article. Water taps were shut off after testing discovered carcinogenic benzene, toluene and xylene at nearly 100 times the recommended limit.

The fire department found the leaking valve, stated the article. About 2,000 cubic meters of soil was contaminated. Concentrations of gas were probably high enough to melt the plastic pipe that contained drinking water, according to engineers involved in the project.

"One centimeter of pure gasoline was found in a well located on the southeast side of the site, which is close to the water line," said an environmental assessment report, in the article. "This type of water line is susceptible to degradation by pure gasoline, although entry of gasoline from the ground into a pressurized water line is difficult to explain."

The station was cited in April 2014 after officials found toxic compounds in soil and gasoline in monitoring wells, reported the article. The operators face 27 charges for failure to notify authorities of spills or leaks between June 2014 and mid-February 2015.

The fire department usually inspects gas stations every two years, shared the article. Although they are required to report spills and unexplained losses that meet certain conditions, gas station owners in the region rarely disclose the incidents.

"They’re paying close attention to how many cartons of cigarettes they have on the shelf, but not to how much gas they’ve got underground," said Don Edgecombe, Petroleum Tank Management Association of Alberta operations manager, in the article. "If you don’t catch a leak early or prevent it in the first place, the cleanup bill could easily be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars."

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