US EPA Region 4 received a report from the NRC reporting a oil spill (heating oil) at approximately 09:14 am on July 16, 2007 from an above ground storage tank (approximatley 15,000 gallon) that supplied a boiler room at the Fieldcrest Cannon Plant #7 facility located in Salisbury, Rowan County, NC. The spill is believed to have consisted of over 8,000 gallons of #6 heating oil which occurred on Thursday July 12,2007. The release is believed to have been caused by thieves accessing the property to steal copper wiring from the electrical and operational equipment. The thieves accessed the boiler room to steal copper and allegedly turned a valve or broke a valve causing the oil in the AST to be released.
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On Thursday July 12, 2007 the Salisbury Wast Water Treatment Plant (WWTP)observed petroleum impacting the plant. The Salisbury WWTP reported the impact to the Salisbury Fire Department, after several hours of investigation it was determined that the source was the Fieldcrest Cannon Plant #7 facility, a abandoned cotton textile plant. The spill originated in the boiler room, approximately 2" of product was observed on the floor of the boiler room. The boiler room has a drain that leads to a oil-water separator. The oil-water separator was also observed as being full of heating oil, the oil-water separator is designed to separate the oil and water and to discharge the water to the WWTP containing the oil in the catch basin. The oil-water separator malfunctioned, was not designed to function with a catastrophic release. The location of the oil-water separator is adjacent to Tar Branch Creek, a tributary to Town Creek which is a tributary to the Yadkin River.
On Friday July 13, the WWTP plugged the line that discharged from the oil-water separator to the WWTP and hired Shamrock Environmental to clean some oil impacted areas within the WWTP. The Salisbury Fire Dept. continued to monitor the site to insure that the oil would remain contained to the boiler room and the oil-water separator.
On Sunday July 15, the Salisbury Fire Dept. observed oil leaching from the soil around the oil-water separator to Tar Branch Creek and notified DENR. The Fire Dept. constructed two underflow dams and deployed absorbant boom in the creek for containment. The property manager of the Fieldcrest Cannon Plant 7 facility, Joel Smithgall was contacted by the Fire Dept. and DENR and was advised of the situation. Mr. Smithgall stated that he had the authority to make decisions on behalf of the owner FCS Urban Ministries but wanted some time to get some estimates from local contractors. DENR authorized the hiring of Shamrock Environmental to respond and to contain the oil at the Fieldcrest Cannon Plant 7 facility. Shamrock Env. recovered over 8,000 gallons of oil from the boiler room and oil-water separator.
On Monday July 16th, oil was still observed leaching from impacted soils along the bank of Tar Branch Creek in the vacinity of the oil-water separator, US EPA was notified by DENR at this time.