Maverik President apologizes to Lander citizens for fuel spill; Says 2,700 gallons of fuel leaked

“We can’t apologize enough. We did not communicate well, we were not proactive in reaching out. And, it affected the community,” said Maverik President Chuck Maggelet at a Tuesday meeting at the Lander Community Center.

Leaders from the community were invited to the presentation regarding the discovery of a fuel leak from the Maverik fueling station at 135 E. Main Street.

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On April 2nd, Lander firefighters were dispatched to a section of the Popo Agie River between 1st Street and Caring Way for the fuel leak report. A pedestrian reported being able to see a gasoline-like substance in the water and that he could smell fumes from the river.

On April 12th, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality cited Maverik for failure to make necessary repairs to prevent overfilling of the unleaded gasoline tanks.

Maggelet and Vice President of Fuels, John Hillam explained to Lander leaders that the leak occurred after three simultaneous system failures. A check valve, pump relay, and alarm reporting system all failed to work. “We’ve never seen had anything like this in any of our stores,” Maggelet explained.

A timeline was provided as part of the presentation of the series events leading up to the leak.

  • January 16th – Maverik conducts underground storage tank inspection, vendor reports everything was okay
  • February 12th – Warn check valve found by a technician
  • February 19th – Controller relay kept running on a pump tank. For approximately 160 hours, the pump kept running and the check valve failed
  • February 22nd – Fuel leak begins. Leak averaged 3/10 of a gallon per minute
  • February 27th – Maverik technician who identified the check valve issue on the 12th noticed the relay issue and fixed it. This likely stopped the leak
  • April 2nd – Lander Fire Department responds to concerns about fuel in the Popo Agie River, closed fuel operations
  • April 3rd – Test for system tightness and pressure showed that it was not still leaking
  • April 4th – Wyoming EPA took control of the site, installed a wall to protect the river
  • April 19th – Maverik and Wyoming DEQ organize work plan
  • April 20th – Installation of EPA wall is complete
  • May 8th – Maverik contractor completes tank system upgrades
  • May 8th and 9th – Follow up testing is completed with Wyoming DEQ
  • May 10th – DEQ completes investigation, lifts red tag order
Despite the red tag order being lifted, Maverik said they did not plan to open fueling operations right away. Hillam told those at the meeting, “once you’ve been through this you’re humbled by it. You’re not chomping at the bit to open it before it’s ready. It’s a measure twice, cut once mentality.”
Maverik reported that it’s estimated 2,700 gallons of fuel leaked from one of the store’s four underground tanks. They report that up to 300 gallons may have reached the river, and they believe the remaining product leaked into the ground near the tank area.
The company confirmed repairs to the system that caused the incident and that they have mounted an audio/visual alert monitor to the side of the store to help alert staff of future issues. Employees are being trained on the use of the alert system and a transfer switch and shut off.
Lander Fire Chief Bobby Johnston expressed his hope that if the fire department needs to coordinate with the company again, they’ll be quicker to respond. Maggelet replied, “We can’t apologize enough. Senior management was involved in the issue right away, but we weren’t here on the ground, and that’s unacceptable.” He said that Maverik plans to streamline communication for critical situations in the future and vowed for more transparency in the company.
Maverik representatives also addressed the Lander City Council and public Tuesday evening. The entire council video can be seen below as provided by the City of Lander’s YouTube Page. Audio on that feed is typically challenging.

  

https://youtu.be/SK237OnDzHk

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