Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said Sunday that his office was investigating this weekend’s large fuel spill in Brookhaven to determine if anyone involved committed a crime as thousands of gallons of gasoline poured into nearby waterways.
The spill killed dozens of frogs, turtles, and fish, and contaminated Chester Creek and an elementary school’s retention pond.
Stollsteimer said he had visited the site Sunday with other federal and local officials, and that prosecutors were at the beginning of their investigation into who did what, and whether anyone’s actions violated environmental laws or the state’s criminal code.
Timothy Boyce, director of emergency services for Delaware County, said separately Sunday that it appeared as if the spillover was the result of a botched fuel delivery to the Gas ‘N’ Go at the corner of Coebourn Boulevard and Edgmont Avenue.
As many as 4,700 gallons of gasoline intended to fill up tanks at the station instead flowed into nearby waterways, Boyce said. He called the spill a “very obvious and uncontrolled release of the product,” but said neither the gas station nor the supplier reported the leak, and that it didn’t come to the attention of officials until residents half a mile away began reporting the smell of gasoline Saturday morning.
“Because of this ‘no report’ by any responsible party, the product ran for hours” before it was noticed, Boyce said. He said the delay “really made this big problem into a catastrophe.”
Attempts to reach employees at the Gas ‘N’ Go on Sunday were unsuccessful. Boyce said he did not know the name of the gas supplier.
The leak resulted in a “large wildlife kill,” and forced the temporary closure of a sewage plant, Boyce said. He said gasoline also caused significant damage to nearby soil, and pooled at Coebourn Elementary School, which will be closed for at least two days while the damage is assessed.
Stollsteimer — who established an environmental crimes unit in 2020 — did not specify what charges prosecutors might consider.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will handle the cleanup, Boyce said, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency might be involved as well. A spokesperson for the DEP said he did not have a further update Sunday.