Versailles’ Water Untainted After Fuel Spill
By Mike Perleberg
(Versailles, Ind.) – Hundreds of gallons of fuel leaked out of a gas station’s underground tank in Versailles earlier this week.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is investigating the fuel spill from an underground tank at the Versailles Marathon station at that corner of U.S. 50 and U.S. 421. The fuel was discovered in a storm drain near the Friendship State Bank when the Versailles Fire Department was called to respond to an odor of fuel in the air last Sunday evening, August 10, according to Ripley County Emergency Management Agency Director Patrick Rose.
Rose asked the IDEM to respond to the situation. “They’ve had an excellent state response,” he said.
The fuel station was shut down following the leak and remains closed Friday. As of Thursday, a contractor has recovered about 6,000 gallons of a fuel, soil, and water mixture, Rose said.
Some residents only learned from it in a newspaper story published in The Versailles Republican on Thursday – five days after the fuel spill. That’s left some wondering why no notice was put out by local officials in what could have been a potentially hazardous situation either through water contamination or the leaked fuel catching fire.
The fuel spill was not brought to residents’ attention in any official message or notification, Rose says, because the situation did not reach that level.
“There have been no reports that the fuel leak contaminated any water source,” Rose said.
The town just this past June signed on with the Hoosier Hills Regional Water District for water service. HHRWD officials say the water they sell to district customers – like the Town of Versailles – comes from well fields at the Whitewater River.
Citizen Rhonda Dobbs commented on Eagle 99.3’s Facebook page that she heard about it on the social website “via people who were listening to the scanner and saw it when it was happening, but didn’t hear anything ‘official’ until Ripley Publishing posted a blurb on Wednesday to watch for the article in Thursday’s paper.”
“I live less than a block away from the Marathon Station and did not know anything about the spill, nor have I received any notice whatsoever from any authority as of this a.m. I only learned of this spill by listening to your radio station on the way to work in Cincinnati this morning,” another resident, Barb Overshiner, commented.
Versailles’ Clerk-Treasurer Kiersten Libby shared on Eagle 99.3’s Facebook page that “No one was notified via phone call, email, social media, etc., because there was no reason to notify anyone with concerns about the drinking water.”
The storm drain system does eventually reach the Versailles State Park, where a large reservoir lies. Rose said the leak wasn’t large enough to reach that far.
Rose said the owner of the Marathon station could be on the hook for the cleanup costs. According to property records, the station is owned by Qurban Singh and JAP Food Mart.
Rose said the Versailles Fire Department Chief Ben Sieverding is the incident commander. He could not immediately be reached by phone at the department Friday morning.