Federal Inspector Joins Search For Burlington Fuel Leak

Aug 21, 2014

A federal inspector was in Burlington Thursday to inspect fuel storage facilities as part of a search for the source of a fuel leak that has been stumping local and state officials for almost three years.

The inspector from the Environmental Protection Agency was checking the infrastructure and protocols at the Vermont Rail Systems rail yard on Burlington’s waterfront. 

The intermittent leak stopped all together this spring when city official plugged a mysterious pipe that runs under the rail yard from an unknown origin.

The pipe is “kind of a pre-mapping pipe,” said Hugo Martinez Cazon, a site manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). “It was in the ground but nobody had record of it.”

While plugging the pipe seems to have stopped the problem, it’s not a permanent fix, and officials still don’t know the source of the fuel. So the DEC, in an effort to narrow their search, invited the EPA inspector to check out the rail yard.

“The kind of things that the EPA inspector will look for would be does the facility have the correct sort of barrier around areas where petroleum tanks are located,” said David Deegan, an EPA spokesman.

Deegan said the inspector would also check Vermont Rail Systems’ protocols for preventing fuel spills and mitigating their effects if they do happen.

He said he wasn’t sure if or when a report on the inspection would be issued, but such inspections sometimes result in corrective actions or fines if problems emerge.