Huntersville neighbors have questions, concerns about Colonial Pipeline gasoline leak

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Crews have repaired and contained a pipeline that leaked 63,000 gallons of gasoline underground in Huntersville, but neighbors say the company is not being forthcoming.

The town said that two teens discovered the spill while they were riding ATVs in the Ohler Nature Preserve on Aug. 14.

The leak, which Colonial Pipeline said was due to failed equipment, closed Huntersville-Concord Road between Lawther and Asbury Chapel Roads for days. The road reopened Monday, officials said.

Agencies are still cleaning up and monitoring the gas line that sits approximately four feet underground. The massive pipe carries gas from the Gulf of Mexico up the East Coast.

There is still mounting concern as neighbors wait to learn more about the environmental impact of the leak. Many residents in the area rely on well water and some are worried the water could be contaminated.

“We want to make sure that our well water is clean and safe,” said homeowner Jake Cohen. “We want to make sure that this gets cleaned up accordingly.”

Neighbors, including Cohen and Catherine Graffy, have been following the updates closely. Initially, the oil company tested homes within 2,000 feet of the leak, but after concerns from residents about the pipeline running through the Pavilion Neighborhood where they live, they asked for expanded testing.

“Our concern is that when the cleanup is done and Colonial Pipeline moves on, that we’re not left here with a potential problem,” Graffy told Channel 9.

While they wait for the test results, neighbors hope to get answers at a town-hosted public meeting on Thursday. It will be their first opportunity to ask questions face-to-face from the agencies involved.

Neighbors told Channel 9 the communication has been mixed and inconsistent so far.

“The town of Huntersville needs to be there asking for the checks and balances, verifying the information and continuing the conversation,” Cohen said.

Cohen and Graffy both said they’re eager to learn more about the next steps.

“This is a year’s long monitoring situation,” said Graffy. “This is not something that we buttoned it up in a week and it’s done.”

Neighbors will get their chance to voice their concerns at the public meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Huntersville Recreation Center.

Social distancing, masks and temperature checks will be required.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Repairs made but road still closed following 63,000-gallon gas leak in Huntersville

A Huntersville road is still shut down after a piece of equipment failed and leaked thousands of gallons of gasoline, but Channel 9 learned Thursday morning that crews have made all their repairs.

The leak started Friday night just before 6 p.m. along Huntersville-Concord Road near Asbury Chapel Road in one of Colonial Pipeline’s underground lines.

Officials said equipment failure caused an estimated 63,000 gallons of gasoline to be released, but the majority of it has been recovered. The gas leaked underground at the Oehler Nature Preserve.

Beneath part of the preserve, Colonial Pipeline has a massive pipe that carries gas from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up the East Coast.

Around 200 Colonial employees, contractors and local first responders were working 24 hours a day to manage to the leak. They said public and worker safety as well as environmental protection are the highest priorities.

The company said it successfully implemented measures to protect the closest water source, which is the North Prong of Clark Creek. It drains east of Huntersville and into the Rocky River in Cabarrus County.

No gasoline has been detected in the creek, but it is being closely monitored.

The full extent of the environmental impacts from the spill is still under evaluation. Officials said local, state and federal agencies are working with the Town of Huntersville and Colonial Pipeline to ensure implementation of any necessary remediation activities.

Public health does not believe there is any impact to drinking water, but is is being monitored and tested.

Huntersville-Concord Road will be closed between Lawther and Asbury Chapel roads until further notice. Officials have not said how long it will take to fix the leak.