An undetermined amount of gasoline leaked into the soil from a filling station that is now closed, and state Ecology Department experts believe it may take a month to develop a cleanup plan.
The investigation and cleanup began last month with complaints of a gasoline odor that was traced to a leaky tank at the Poulsbo Junction Grocery. It is one of the worst pollution cases involving a filling station in the Puget Sound region in recent memory, agency spokesman Larry Altose said Tuesday.
Typically, the department’s seven-county Puget Sound region, the most populous in the state, has about one gas station pollution case a year, “but not usually on this scale,” Altose said. “It’s odd because it got so far.”
Altose said the store remained open although the gasoline operation on Viking Way, a major thoroughfare, has been shut down. Fines could be imposed on past and present owners, he added.
No telephone number is listed for the grocery store or for the owner, listed on the state Licensing Department’s Web site as Hana Shin.
Altose said agency investigators found multiple violations, including inadequate record keeping and lack of monitoring equipment and meters that likely would have revealed the leak at a much earlier stage.
The Ecology Department has authorized up to $200,000 for the investigation and initial cleanup, which began after a complaint of fumes in the area in June, Altose said.
A one-inch hole was found just above the fill line in one of three tanks of about 10,000-gallon capacity and all three were removed by July 13, along with much of the fill around them, he said. Soil samples have been taken from nine holes bored into the ground to try to determine the extent of the gasoline plume.
The amount that leaked was not known because of a lack of records at the store, which was sold in February, Altose said.
“It could be hundreds or thousands of gallons,” he said.
Municipal officials deployed a boom which apparently kept gasoline from reaching the saltwater marshes in Liberty Bay, and a filter has been installed in a drainage pipe where most of the gasoline still seeping through the soil seems to be going, Altose said.
Three nearby businesses have been affected by the fumes. One, Armstrong Fitness University, has been moved.
Ecology officials have said the fumes appeared to be well below the levels that would trigger a health alert.