AmeriGas propane tank to be removed from site
Although Truckee residents will still be seeing the AmeriGas building on Donner Pass Road near Highway 89 South, it won’t be operating the way it did before the “Donner Incident.”
After an area business reported smelling propane more than a month ago, fire department, environmental health and town officials scrambled to clean up the 22,000 gallons of propane that AmeriGas estimated had leaked from the tank since March 2002. The company has decided to remove it.
“We’re going to remove that tank in the back,” said Bob Roseler, vice president of operations at AmeriGas. “We’re not replacing anything there.”
The building will continue to operate as a store front – a customer service area where people can pay their bills or sign up for more services.
Roseler said AmeriGas had kept the store running as a convenience, not necessarily because it was profitable.
“First of all, there wasn’t enough business to justify us leaving it in,” he said.
Since the leak was first detected, Truckee officials have been busy helping to coordinate agencies, keep the public informed, clean up the spill and keep the situation under control.
“The good news is it was an incident, not an accident, and no one was hurt,” Roseler said.
Although AmeriGas has yet to find out what went wrong with a pipe that caused the leak, Roseler said he hopes environmental clean up crews will have propane readings along Donner Pass Road down to zero in a week.
As one week turned into one month, questions about what to do next lingered at council meetings and public briefings – with some remembering a downtown Truckee explosion 10 years ago that killed a man.
Some suggested that AmeriGas leave town.
“The town does not have legal authority to modify the land use on that parcel,” said Truckee Town Manager Steve Wright. But if AmeriGas ever decided to replace the pipe and tank on the current property they would have to go through an approval process both with the town and the fire department.
“Even if it was an existing non-conforming use …they’re still legal uses,” Wright said.
A decade ago, propane-related fires and explosions were the norm, incidents that were relegated to page three of this newspaper.
“That’s because every house and every business had a propane tank,” Wright said. But, he noted, the fire department responds regularly to propane-related incidents.