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Crews Continue To Clean, Investigate Gas Spill

WHITE OAK TOWNSHIP (AP) – State environmental quality officials are reviewing Marathon Pipe Line’s plan for sucking up 126,000 gallons of gas spilled in mid-Michigan, even as the company continues to investigate why its safety systems missed the pipeline failure that dumped the fuel.

So far, 50,000 gallons have been recovered, Brad Wurfel, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), told the Lansing State Journal for a story published Wednesday.

Marathon is waiting for approval from the DEQ on a new system that would speed up the removal process, Wurfel said. If approved, the system would take one to two months to remove all the remaining gasoline.

The leak was discovered April 13 by a man in Ingham County’s White Oak Township whose 16-acre horse and hay farm backs up to four fuel storage tanks.

The farmer noticed gasoline trickling into a drainage ditch near the edge of his property while searching for the source of fumes that he and his family had been smelling for days.

The leak’s source was traced to a faulty gasket on a pipe leading into a tank owned by Marathon.

Those who live in the area say they want to know why the company didn’t notice the leak and instead relied on a farmer’s sense of smell to discover the gasoline loss.

“When those tanks were going in, they promised everyone they would be safe and there wouldn’t be any problems,” said Ashley Ray, 26, who can see the tank farm from her backyard. “Obviously, that wasn’t true.”

Marathon spokesman Tom Shields said the pipeline in question hasn’t been turned back on.

“They’ve taken this valve off and replaced it as a precaution, and we’ve sent it out for tests,” Shields said. “Sometimes, these tests take a while to figure out why there was a failure.”

County and state officials have declared the emergency phase of the leak over and now are in what they call the recovery phase.

The number of workers on site has been cut in half to about 100, Shields said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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