Big Spill in Little Chartiers Creek

Less than five months after a ‘significant fish kill’ further downstream, from what was believed to be a turf fungicide, we read of yet another significant spill of 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of gasoline, where an estimated 1,000 fish and other aquatic species died in the spill.

In that mid-July event, “waterways officers pinpointed the fish kill to a roughly 7-mile long area from around the Valley Brook Country Club in Peters to 7 miles downstream.” Blog

While the distance of the November 28, 2021 fish kill wasn’t specifically mentioned, one newspaper story said the PFBC (Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission) “is monitoring Canonsburg Lake” which is over 5-miles away from this spill source, as the crow flies. The news stories went on to say, “The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said the spill, near the intersection of Routes 136 and 519, originated from an underground storage container at the Kwik Fill gas station, located nearby.”

Below is a photo of that gas station with a cleanup roll-off container and pickup truck in the side parking lot.

“It’s a lot of fuel, for that amount to be introduced all at one time. It certainly can cause a lot of problems. It’s a smaller creek, it isn’t very large, so (the spill) can wipe out quite a bit of aquatic life.”

PFBC spokesman Mike Parker / Observer-Reporter
Residents who live nearby said the spill has made them extremely sick.

“We thought it was COVID because our nose was burning. Our throat was burning, weakened fatigue. We were just smelling gas and getting extremely sick. Extremely dizzy and lightheaded. (My husband) has MS and put him into an MS relapse where he has no upper body strength right now.”

Michelle Hatfield told KDKA News

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
ATSDR – Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry:

  • “At high levels, automotive gasoline is irritating to the lungs when breathed in and irritating to the lining of the stomach when swallowed. Exposure to high levels may also cause harmful effects to the nervous system.”
  • “Many of the harmful effects seen after exposure to gasoline are due to the individual chemicals in the gasoline mixture, such as benzene and lead. Inhaling or swallowing large amounts of gasoline can cause death.”
  • “Inhaling high concentrations of gasoline is irritating to the lungs when breathed in and irritating to the lining of the stomach when swallowed. Gasoline is also a skin irritant. Breathing in high levels of gasoline for short periods or swallowing large amounts of gasoline may also cause harmful effects on the nervous system.”
  • “Serious nervous system effects include coma and the inability to breathe, while less serious effects include dizziness and headaches.”
  • “Some laboratory animals that breathed high concentrations of unleaded gasoline vapors continuously for 2 years developed liver and kidney tumors. However, there is no evidence that exposure to gasoline causes cancer in humans.”
It could take months before the fuel is cleaned up and the smell is gone.

“The product is leaking through groundwater and until it seeps through and stops, they’ll be out there cleaning up that product. Gasoline continuing to smell over time can give you a headache.”

North Strabane Township Assistant Fire Chief Rich Yosi / MSN News
Marcellus Shale oil and gas production has already taken a toll on far too many of our small streams in Washington County, Pennsylvania so it’s especially sad to see additional unrelated spills creating these kinds of continuing environmental disasters.
Bob

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