Thousands of gallons of gasoline spilled Monday afternoon from a holding tank at the ExxonMobil fuel storage facility in Spokane Valley.
Maintenance workers sheared a small pipe that was part of a temperature gauge, said Spokane Valley Fire Department Marshal Kevin Miller. Gasoline spilled from the three-quarter-inch pipe for 90 minutes until a city emergency crew plugged the leak at 4 p.m.
Sheriff’s deputies diverted traffic from roads near the 6300 block of East Sharp Avenue and evacuated neighboring industrial-area businesses.
State Ecology officials and cleanup crews were unsure if the tank sits atop an impermeable liner that would help keep the fuel from reaching the Spokane Valley Aquifer some 80 feet below the site.
The tank holds 40,000 barrels of fuel, or about 1.6 million gallons. It is among many in the area served by the Yellowstone Pipeline, which delivers fuels from refineries near Billings.
The tanks are surrounded by earthen dikes designed to keep spills contained. Officials won’t know how much fuel spilled until ExxonMobil reviews its records.
More than three dozen firefighters and cleanup workers responded to the spill, including crews from Fairchild Air Force Base.
Cleanup workers were attempting to siphon any fuel that may have pooled on the ground late Monday afternoon. The remainder of the fuel-saturated dirt will have to be excavated and dumped at a special disposal site.