The Princeton Packet
10 February, 1986 (~estimated)
Charred canal tree replacements may cost $300,000
By Sally Lane
WEST WINDSOR — It could cost up to $300,000 to replace trees charred in a Jan. 31 fire and explosion along the Delaware & Raritan Canal following a leak from a gasoline pipeline, according to a canal commission official.
Between 2,000 to 3,000 trees in the lowland deciduous forest surrounding the canal appear to be charred, said Executive Director James Amon.
The commission is planning to call in a forester from the state Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the severity of the damage, Mr. Amon said.
Nearly 10,000 gallons of gasoline seeped into the canal and surrounding soils Friday afternoon after the line split, sending liquid gasoline 15 feet into the air, and forcing four families in the area to evacuate their homes. The broken section was located behind the Canal Pointe Associates development off Carnegie Boulevard West.
By Tuesday afternoon, the families had been allowed to return to their homes.
An explosion and fire occurred at 8 p.m. Friday after gas fumes from the leak seeped through the vents of a pumphouse in the area then igniting when they met with a heater in the pumphouse ceiling. No one was injured.
Authorities investigating the incident discovered a 2-foot-long gash Tuesday in the Sun Pipeline Co. pipe but have not determined what caused the gash.
Investigators believe that the gash occurred sometime prior to Friday, said David Hackney, media relations manager for Sun Co. of Philadelphia, the parent company of Sun Pipeline of Wayne, Pa.
But authorities refused to speculate whether the gash could have been caused by the recent canal dredging or by Canal Pointe Associates, who are building a 1,000-unit development in the area.
“Somebody did something wrong, but we don’t know what,” said James Staples, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The pipeline company discovered the gash when it replaced the 40-foot-long joint Tuesday in which the split was located, Mr. Hackney said. The line, which carries gasoline from Marcus Hook, Pa, to Newark, was put in service that night, he said
After the fire, 1,000 gallons of gasoline were left in the canal and the surrounding soils, Mr. Staples said.
Since Friday, the New England Pollution Control Co. of Robbinsville has been working to clean up the water. The company is also removing contaminated dirt from the area, Mr. Staples said.
The amount of dirt contaminated by the spill is unknown, the DEP spokesman said. But the pollution control company is working along a 2,500-square-foot stretch of the canal, cleaning the water, he said.
Sluice gates — which regulate the flow of water — were closed at Lambertville and Kingston immediately after the spill to contain the contamination, Mr. Staples said.
Over 600.000 people, including Mercer and Middlesex County residents — are served by the canal, said Gregory Chase, chief of operations and maintenance for the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, in Clinton.
The cost of the damage to the area was also unknown, he said.
Norbert Wagner, chief engineer for the Elizabethtown Water Co., said he did not know whether the company would replace the 10-by-10-foot cinder block pumphouse building destroyed in the explosion. The building was not being used at the time of the incident, he said.