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7-Eleven defends actions in store gas leak

March 18, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - A 7-Eleven official says the company received no complaints after a gas leak occurred at one of the company's stores at 110 S. Mildred St.

7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris responded Friday to a lawsuit filed by eight Ranson property owners who claim they suffered damage to their properties when gasoline leaked from the local 7-Eleven store.

The suit, filed Feb. 21 in Jefferson County Circuit Court, claims 7-Eleven officials knew that the leak occurred as early as January 2000. Despite knowing about the leak, 7-Eleven officials hid the leak from the eight property owners and government agencies, the suit said.

At a Ranson Town Council meeting last August, City Manager Dave Mills said gas had leaked from the convenience store and that residents in the area had been complaining about fumes.

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The problem with fumes was the worst when there has been flooding in the area, Mills said.

When the ground becomes saturated with water, the gasoline rises to the surface of the ground, Mills said.

Chabris said no complaints have reached 7-Eleven officials.

"We have no information, no complaints ... that any product contaminated any neighboring homes or neighboring sites," said Chabris.

When 7-Eleven officials first noticed the gas leak, they discovered there had been "some irregularities in inventory," said Chabris.

Company officials immediately notified the state Department of Environmental Protection and gas tanks at the store were replaced last year, said Chabris.

"Corrective action has been under way," said Chabris, adding that the remediation has been approved by the state environmental officials.

When 7-Eleven installed petroleum storage facilities at the store in 1976, they were negligently constructed without controls that would have informed 7-Eleven employees if leaks from tanks and lines occurred, said the suit.

The eight property owners are seeking as-yet-undetermined damages for eight different conditions, including emotional distress, expenses, inconvenience and loss of wages and income, the suit said.

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