Newington fuel tanks were leaking for at least a year - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-Team Investigation

Newington fuel tanks were leaking for at least a year

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The site where the oil spill happened in Newington still smells of fumes (WFSB) The site where the oil spill happened in Newington still smells of fumes (WFSB)

There are new details emerging about the 19,000-gallon fuel spill in Newington.

Officials say it went on much longer than anyone realized, and it will undoubtedly have a financial impact on the more than 30,000 who live in the area.  

At the site of the fuel spill, there is still fuel visible and you can still smell it.

On Monday night, it was learned that the 19,000 gallons that leaked, didn’t happen all at once. It went undetected for at least a year, meaning someone simply didn’t do their job.

To date, 6,000 tons of contaminated soil have been removed from this area near Newington’s town offices on Garfield Street after 19,000 gallons of fuel leaked out of the tanks in December.

The problem has gone undetected for a staggering amount of time.

“It’s looking like 12 or 13 months, that it’s been leaking,” said Newington Town Attorney Ben Ancona. “It could have leaked a lot near the end, or it could have been a spike somewhere along the way, we don’t know that.”

He said this was not supposed to happen. There were several safeguards in place to make sure someone was alerted if a leak did occur.

“Anti-siphoning, audible alarm, visible alarm, the vault in the ground should have contained any leak, and that failed in and of itself,” Ancona said.

No one knew because it appears no one was doing daily, weekly, or even monthly inspections of the tanks.

“They didn’t really oversee it as much as they should have,” Ancona said.

The town said the board of education is solely responsible for the upkeep of the fuel tanks and on an audio tape that was released, you can hear a board of education member acknowledging the error during a conversation with superintendent William Collins.

“You could say there is a significant deficiency on our part because nobody was checking into it for ages,” Lou Jachimowicz, of the Newington Board of Education, says.

No one on the board of education was available for comment and on the town’s side, no one knows who on the board of education was supposed to be in charge of tank inspection.

“We really don’t. Even though officials say the tank system has been in place for more than a decade,” Ancona said.

When asked who was doing the checks back then, Ancona said “I really don’t know.”

While we’ll try to find out who’s accountable, Channel 3 did learn cleaning up the year-long mess will be very expensive.

Newington voted to allocate $5 million in emergency funding specifically for this problem. The state is offering no money to help so that means eventually, taxpayers will get stuck with the bill.

 So while we know the fuel tanks are the responsibility of the board of education, the question remains -- who on the board of education is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the tanks.

Answers are possible at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

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