Pipeline spill during flash flooding may contaminate Susquehanna River

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

GAMBLE TOWNSHIP — Gasoline from a pipeline spilled into a creek in Lycoming County during flash flooding overnight.

Officials with Sunoco Logistics said an 8-inch pipeline was shut down after the leak was detected around 3 a.m. Friday.

The spill occurred in the vicinity of Wallis Run near the intersection of Wallis Run Road and Butternut Grove Road.

Officials with Pennsylvania American Water are urging communities downstream in Northumberland and Union Counties to limit water use as the extent of the leak is determined.

Sunoco Logistics and the State Department of Environmental Protection are testing water in the Susquehanna River to see if the levels of gasoline threaten drinking water.

The amount of gas that leaked is undetermined, but Sunoco says it quickly turned off valves that stopped the leak.

Both Sunoco and the State Department of Environmental Protection say they have told officials in communities along the Loyalsock creek and downstream along the Susquehanna River to be on standby, in case they find levels of gasoline in the water.

The Department of Environmental Protection sent out this release:

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Emergency Response Team today responded to the leak of a Sunoco pipeline carrying gasoline in Lycoming County. An estimated 55,000 gallons of gasoline leaked into a tributary of the Loyalsock Creek, as a result of flash floods and landslides due to heavy rainfall last night. The pipeline has been shut down since early this morning.

DEP personnel are on site working closely with staff from Sunoco and its consultant to remediate the effects of this spill. DEP has been working on emergency plans with the three north-central water systems potentially impacted by this spill.

• Shamokin Dam Borough has closed its intake as a precaution, and Aqua PA is amenable to an emergency interconnect to serve Shamokin Dam Borough if needed.
• The Sunbury Municipal Authority is currently using its Little Shamokin Creek source.
• PA American-Milton has notified its customers to conserve water and has asked commercial users to encourage usage reduction. An alternative source of water is insufficient to meet the full demand. PA American will close its intake as necessary, and is preparing for a potential interconnect, if needed.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be working with DEP’s Emergency Response program staff on a sampling plan in conjunction with the Sunoco contractors and consultant.

DEP is also working with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for safe access to the pipeline break. The area is difficult for staff and equipment to reach. As the rain is predicted to continue, it may be later tonight or tomorrow before the water recedes and the break area can be found.

DEP will staff an incident command center at the Eldred Township Fire Hall.

Sunoco Logistics sent out this release:

Sunoco Logistics emergency response crews are in the process of containment and collection efforts following a release of gasoline from an 8-inch pipeline in the vicinity of Wallis Run near the intersection of Wallis Run Road and Butternut Grove Road in Gamble Township, Lycoming County. Wallis Run is a tributary of the Loyalsock Creek.

The area received heavy rainfall overnight, resulting in flash floods, landslides and riverbank erosion. Crews will use skimmers to remove gasoline from the top of affected waterways and will erect containment booms downstream.

A drop in pressure in the pipeline was detected by the Sunoco Logistics Control Center shortly after 3 a.m. Friday, October 21. The pipeline was shut down and emergency response personnel were dispatched to the scene. Federal, state, county and local officials were notified and a Unified Command Center was established at the nearby Eldred Township Volunteer Fire Company. The agencies on scene include: Federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Safety and environmental crews are meeting with affected residents. Residents who have been impacted by the release can call a Sunoco Logistics representative at 1-800-759-5644.