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Gas fumes close roads, businesses

August 11, 1999|By DON AINES

SCOTLAND, Pa. - Gasoline fumes coming from a monitoring well caused two businesses and a section of Black Gap Road to be closed Wednesday afternoon, according to Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Company Deputy Chief Bobby Albrecht.

"We had an extremely explosive atmosphere," Albrecht said of the incident at Scotland Mini Fuels, 3322 Black Gap Road. He said the fumes were heavy enough that they were displacing oxygen around the drill site and could have ignited.

The fumes were detected at about noon, forcing that business and the McDonald's across the road to be evacuated for more than three hours.

He said Black Gap Road was closed from the west side of the nearby Exit 8 interchange to Smoketown Road. Motorists going to and from Chambersburg Mall were allowed to use the entrance just north of Smoketown Road, Albrecht said.

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Franklin County Hazardous Materials Coordinator Gary Himes said the well was being drilled by a private contractor for Scotland Mini Fuels to monitor possible contamination at the site. The well went down 75 feet and drilling equipment was being withdrawn when a section of the shaft collapsed about 21 feet down.

That was when the gasoline fumes were detected, Himes said.

Albrecht said underground gasoline tanks at the station had a major leak in 1991. He said the drill may have hit a pocket of fuel that had collected from that leak.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was called in and a decision was made to cap the well until further testing can be done, Himes said.

Firefighters from the Chambersburg and Letterkenny Army Depot fire departments and the Franklin, New Franklin and West End Shippensburg fire companies assisted at the scene, Albrecht said.

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