Press Release

JACKSONVILLE, MD (March 9, 2006) – A major gasoline company will face stiff penalties and all station operators will face even tighter controls on petroleum products following the release of roughly 25,000 gallons of gasoline from a northern Baltimore County service station. Maryland’s Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary and top officials in the state’s Oil Control Program announced the actions at a press conference near the affected station this morning.

“MDE is committed to doing all we can, not only to clean up this contamination, but also to prevent such a disaster from occurring again elsewhere in Maryland,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “Without a clean water supply, the health and vitality of a community is threatened.”

“We are quite frankly baffled as to how someone—with all the regulatory controls we have in place—can explain the release of hundreds of gallons per day that went apparently undetected, unreported, and with no intervening action for over a month,” the secretary added. “MDE is closely investigating this case and will be taking strong enforcement action against ExxonMobil.”

Over the weekend of Feb. 21, MDE, which administers the state’s Oil Control Program, responded to the significant leak at the ExxonMobil gasoline station located at the intersection of Jarrettsville Pike (Rt. 145) and Paper Mill Road (Rt. 146). The department is currently overseeing the recovery of an estimated 25,000-gallon release from a regular unleaded gasoline line at the Jacksonville ExxonMobil station.

MDE expects to finalize its investigation within the next few weeks. The department will issue a press release with details of the violations and penalties and when a complaint is filed.

As a result of the incident, MDE is directing all retail gas station owners to verify the proper calibration and operation of their leak detection systems. Additionally, MDE is proposing emergency regulations to further safeguard groundwater supplies across the state that will increase the frequency of leak detection system testing at all retail gasoline outlets in high-risk groundwater use areas and tighten inventory controls and reporting of inventory discrepancies.

“The actions I am proposing today are tough, but necessary,” Secretary Philbrick said. “We have learned here that we need additional checks and balances to ensure early knowledge of releases so they can be addressed. We simply cannot compromise the health, the homes, and the livelihood of Maryland’s communities by exposing them to disasters like this.”

To date, more than 7,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline have been recovered and approximately 112,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater have been recovered. The equivalent of nearly 700 gallons of gasoline vapors have been pumped from the ground as well. Vacuum trucks are operating on a 24-hour basis and a total of 53 monitoring wells have been installed at the site and surrounding properties. Water samples have been collected at 83 properties and to date no gasoline has been detected in drinking water wells of nearby homes.

In addition to the ongoing sampling of existing supply wells, ExxonMobil must also provide MDE with daily status updates on the amount of product recovered and other field activities. ExxonMobil is coordinating their investigation with BP Amoco, a neighboring station that is the source of historical contamination in the area.

MDE has also been working closely with legislators from the area including State Senator Andrew Harris, and State Delegates Rick Impallaria, J.B. Jennings, Wade Kach, and Patrick McDonough – as well as with Baltimore County Councilman Brian McIntire.

Residents seeking more information on this matter can attend a Greater Jacksonville Association, Inc. meeting this evening [Thursday, March 9] at 7 p.m., being held at Cockeysville Middle School, located at 10401 Greenside Drive, Cockeysville. MDE, elected officials, ExxonMobil and University of Maryland School of Nursing representatives will be present.