confirmed that the flammable substance which caused the explosion in the
McDonald’s lift station shed early Wednesday morning was gasoline.
They have also
established that the gasoline was infiltrating into the sanitary sewer
system from the BP Amoco property on the north side of Indian Boundary Road.
Town Engineer Mark
O’Dell told the Chesterton Tribune today that the gasoline apparently
leached into the business’s sewer service lateral through cracks in the
lateral’s joints and then followed the wastewater flow to the lift station,
where its vapors gathered--possibly mixing with methane from the sewage
itself--until finally being ignited by a spark thrown by the control panel.
The lateral has
since been plugged, O’Dell said.
At issue now is
whether the gasoline in question is old fuel or new fuel.
Some years ago a
leak in the property’s underground tank was discovered, O’Dell said. That
leak has long since been mediated and the tank removed from the ground but
it’s possible that residual gasoline still in the soil, under hydrostatic
pressure from the recent heavy rains, has found its way into the service
possibility: the fuel leak is fresh.
noted has been cooperating fully with the town--has hired a contractor to
investigate and mediate. The Utility, for its part, is reviewing the
feasibility of re-locating the business’ service lateral away from the
underground tank field. Meanwhile, O’Dell said, both the Porter County
Environmental Department and the Indiana Department of Environmental
Management are now involved.
Across the street
on Indian Boundary Road, at the McDonald’s, a local builder was working
Wednesday evening to frame up a temporary shed to house the lift station.
The pump is still being powered by an emergency generator, however, and
O’Dell said that the Utility is talking to NIPSCO about getting the station
back on the grid.
occurred shortly after 12 a.m. on Wednesday. No one was injured in the
blast, which was powerful enough to dump the shed in the middle of Indian
Boundary Road and damage the freestanding McDonald’s sign overhead. Hard to
believe, but the lift station itself--the control panel and pump