Residents on Branch Street in Marion reported the smell of kerosene Friday morning coming from a creek that runs from East Court Street down Branch Street and eventually into Lake James.
Emergency Management Director Terry Young said his team investigated the situation, noticing the substance in the creek was red and determining that it was in fact kerosene.
“We put absorbent sheets into the creek to absorb it up right there where it is ponded up on Branch Street,” Young told The McDowell News Wednesday. “We went down the creek and put absorbent booms down there to keep it from getting on down any further.”
He also said the Water Quality team from Asheville came in on Friday with a cleanup crew that vacuumed a big part of the kerosene that had leaked.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from Asheville is investigating the cause of the leak, which was still undetermined Wednesday afternoon.
“We are still investigating. We have been out there every day looking into the source of the leak,” said Jan Anderson, regional supervisor for the underground storage tank section of DENR. “In an urban environment, there are many pipes running through the ground, so there could be several sources.”
Young said no one is sure how much kerosene made it into the water, but he is confident the leak has been controlled.
“We have been monitoring it on a daily basis to make sure there is no more kerosene coming down,” Young said. “We feel like we have contained it pretty well in that area.”
Young added that the tributary runs into Lake James but no kerosene has made it that far and wildlife has not been affected.