Propane leak at EZ-MART
BY Associate News Editor
A sizable propane gas leak occurred outside of the BP gas station and the EZ-Mart on the corner of South Main Street and Beverly Road, near the University Gardens Apartments on Friday, February 15. The intersection was shut off entirely from approximately 9 p.m. onward, although South Main Street was reduced to one lane after 10:40 p.m.
According to John H. Farrell IV, the public information officer for Newark’s Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company, the leak was caused when the release valve on the 1,500 gallon propane tank beneath the gas station failed to close properly. Farrell said that the tank was likely overfilled.
The leak was initially investigated by the Newark Police Department (NPD) after nearby residents complained about an odor around 10:00 pm. Once NPD officers realized the source of the odor, they summoned multiple fire engines from the Aetna Hook, Hose & Ladder company. These were quickly reinforced by firefighters from Christiana and Belvedere, Del.
The presence of propane fumes in the air near the spill required the use of oxygen masks by the 25 firefighters present. They first brought out water hoses as a defense in the event that the propane gas unexpectedly combusted.
Assistant Fire Chief Dave Bailey arrived at 11 p.m. with a hazardous materials response (hazmat) vehicle from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).
Bailey and DNREC officials first considered implementing a “controlled flare” solution to the problem: this would entail isolating the gas and then igniting it in the open where firefighters could immediately extinguish it. However, they were able to instead repair the release valve on the tank and stop the leak itself.