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Date of Issue: March 01, 2007

Fuel spilled at station

West Manatee Fire Rescue District firefighters worked diligently to avoid "disaster" while others stood at "ready" with hoses when a boat owner erroneously pumped gas into the bilge of his boat at the Pure gas station at the intersection of Gulf and Marina drives in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

A gasoline spill at the Holmes Beach Pure Station temporarily shut down operations Feb. 22 but the fuel was contained.

The spill occurred shortly before 10 a.m, when a Georgia man put a pump nozzle into a fishing rod holder on his boat rather than into the fuel tank. About 27 gallons of fuel filled the boat's bilge, then was emptied on the ground when the bilge pump started, according to West Manatee Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Rich Losek.

"Just an accident," said Bret Vande Vrede, owner of the station at 5333 Gulf Drive. "It probably happens more often than we know about."

Vande Vrede said he immediately shut down his pumps and notified emergency officials.

"The police came out and did what they do best," said Vande Vrede, who used some absorbent materials on hand to collect a lot of the fuel.

Holmes Beach Police Department and West Manatee Fire Rescue District dispatched aid, as did Manatee County's hazardous materials department, which supervised a full cleanup at the site.

"We had a small spill," said Ed Eartly, solid waste officer for Manatee County and a member of the county's hazardous materials team.

Eartly said the fuel reached two stormwater drains in the immediate area, but was stopped from going farther.

"What we did is we stuffed booms inside the drains," Eartly said. "So we stopped it right there....We didn't want to lose the product and have it go into the bay. It's not good for the environment."

Other locations including the bay were checked to make sure the spill was contained.

On sight, SWS, a company from Tampa, assisted with the cleanup until about 3 p.m.

The accident, which resulted in no tickets, shut down the Pure station for about 90 minutes, Vande Vrede estimated.

"But everything is good," he added in an interview the next day.

The incident was the first such accident at the station in about six years.

Eartly said fuel overruns at stations are not uncommon, especially when a person leaves a vehicle unattended.

In the incident that occurred at the Pure station last week, the boat owner, whose name has not been released, will be billed for the cleanup. A cost estimate was not available.