Officials continue to monitor fuel spill

Youngs Fork Creek, at the intersection of Rutherford Road and Georgia Avenue in Marion


A recreation advisory remained in effect Friday, nearly a week after a petroleum leak into Youngs Fork Creek in Marion.

On Feb. 24, local and state emergency agencies were called to the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Rutherford Road in Marion to investigate a petroleum-like substance that potentially seeped into Youngs Fork Creek.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) is the lead agency on the situation.

According to Zan Price, assistant regional supervisor of NCDEQ’s Division of Water Resources, the source of the fuel spill has been determined from KG’s Quick Stop, adjacent to the creek on Rutherford Road.

Price said the site investigation work including underground storage tank and product line integrity tests have been directed by Matthew Rosone with the Underground Storage Tank (UST) section, Permits and Inspection Branch.

There are no current estimates of how much fuel has been released into the creek.

The Division of Water Resources (DWR)’s role in this investigation, according to Price, is to monitor the creek for petroleum sheen and any associated impacts. DWR staff has inspected the creek that flows under KG’s Quick Stop – an unnamed tributary to Youngs Fork -- and Youngs Fork Creek daily since the agency was notified of the spill last Saturday.

At the time of the initial report, McDowell Emergency Management deployed absorbent booms in six locations in the unnamed tributary and Youngs Fork Creek, which are checked daily by an environmental cleanup crew from STAT, Inc.

The majority of the petroleum sheen and odor has been observed in the unnamed creek with some isolated pockets of sheen observed in Youngs Fork. In Friday’s situation report, the sheen was not observed the previous day at any point presumably due to turbidity from higher flows. A boom located at 94 Shop Drive possibly contained some product but again no sheen was visible. As a precaution, absorbent pads were requested to be placed at this site.

According to Price, DWR has not observed any human or animal exposure – including fish deaths – in Youngs Fork.

The DWR is providing daily situation report updates to the local health department and the North Carolina Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) branch so they can make informed decisions on any recreational advisories in the creek. Sample results by the DWR are expected early next week.

As of March 2, the “Recreational Advisory” for Youngs Fork from Rutherford Road at Georgia Avenue to its confluence with North Muddy Creek remains in effect, according to Emergency Services Director William Kehler. Environmental and health officials recommend the following:

- Avoid swimming, wading or fishing in this section of the area until further notice.

- Avoid skin contact with water, soil and sediment in or near the river.

- If skin comes into contact with contaminated sediment or water, thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water.

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