AmeriGas leak should be closely examined
February 6, 2003
Each day, while clean-up efforts continue in the area surrounding the AmeriGas building on Donner Pass Road, the seriousness of the propane leak comes further into focus.
According to AmeriGas’ records, the leak may have started as early as last March, and may have released as much as 22,000 gallons over the course of 10 months.
Even from a layman’s perspective, that is a lot of gas.
AmeriGas has thus far shown considerable effort to be forthcoming with the public and local business owners about what has transpired. The company has remained accessible by the Sierra Sun – and, we assume, other media outlets – and has frequently held informational meetings for the owners of businesses affected by the spill. They have also written a letter to appear in these pages to inform local residents of the situation.
Meanwhile, propane customers have been directed to the company’s South Lake Tahoe office, and company experts have been brought in to consult while the clean up continues.
While we applaud this effort, AmeriGas should have to submit to rigorous external investigation. Environmental officials must study the short- and long-term environmental effects of a gas leak of this size, and determine if any lasting damage has occurred.
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Other questions that should be considered include: Are there any potential negative health consequences? Why was the leak not caught earlier? What went wrong with equipment that was presumably designed to last forever?
Local business people have also lost a lot of money during the street closures. Although many have remained open during the melee, customers have surely avoided the area. How will AmeriGas compensate its neighbors?
And what about the future of AmeriGas on Donner Pass Road?
When the safety of school children, local residents and business people is part of the equation, it behooves the company, and local government, to consider the pros and cons.