Firefighters supervised the removal Monday of a pool of gasoline that had seeped from an automobile dealer's leaking underground storage tank.
City Fire Marshal Donald Tully said a one- to two-foot-deep pool of gas was pumped from the hole that held the 2,000-gallon storage tank on the grounds of Gateway Chevrolet in the 6100 block of Manchester Boulevard.
Tully said Fire Department officials ordered the gasoline removed because the pool of flammable liquid was considered "an imminent hazard."
Robert E. Merryman, environmental health director for the county Health Care Agency, said he did not know how large an area had been contaminated by the gasoline leak, or whether any had seeped into the ground water below. Further tests are pending.
Merryman said the leak was first detected last May 27 by the automobile dealership during tests of the gasoline tank and a 500-gallon tank for waste oil.
Owner Mike Padilla said the dealership voluntarily emptied both tanks in May when the tests, required under state law, revealed a possible leak. Results of those tests were reported to county health officials on July 2, Merryman said.
The leaky tank was removed Oct. 27. A county hazardous waste specialist, who was on hand for the tank removal, observed contaminated soil but no pool of gasoline, Merryman said. However, he said it would not be unusual for the gas to seep back into the hole once the tank was removed because liquids "follow the path of least resistance."
Merryman said the dealership by next month must provide an assessment of the area polluted and proposals on how to begin further cleanup.
It is unknown when the leak began, or how much gasoline may have seeped into the ground. Padilla, who has owned the dealership for three years, said he thought the tanks were installed 15 to 20 years ago.
Padilla said the two tanks will not be replaced.