By Nathan Duke
A spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that an estimated 700 gallons of gasoline spilled during a delivery to the station. The gasoline seeped into the local sewer system, asphalt and a property adjacent to the station, he said.The gas station's owners could not be reached for comment.Several residents on 61st Road, which is near the station, said strong gasoline vapors were wafting in their basements and homes for several days.”The gasoline was permeating everything. It was just horrible,” said resident Andrea Roach. Roach said she and several residents heard a noise resembling a loud crack of thunder under a sewer plate on her street shortly after the spill. But a DEC spokesman said the department had no record of explosions on the street.Lisa Ferrara, who also lives on 61st Road and witnessed the spill, said she was concerned that the spill could have triggered an explosion.”(The gasoline) was pouring down the street by the curb like a rainstorm,” she said. “I thought we were going to blow up. Someone could have flipped a cigarette out the window.”The gas station is currently closed and undergoing remediation.A DEC spokesman said the Fire Department flushed nearby sewers with water and that Exxon Mobil took charge over the cleanup, hiring a contractor to expedite remediation. The company installed ventilation systems and implemented air monitoring of affected homes, he said.The department is currently searching for soil and groundwater contamination in the area, the spokesman said.But elected officials and local leaders said they were still concerned about the spill's effects on the community.”We want to make sure everything is completely cleaned,” Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) said. “I'm concerned whether we will have to remove soil or asphalt and how far the contamination went.”Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said he would like to see an investigation into the spill and hopes the city fines the responsible parties.”This could have been a catastrophe,” he said. “We don't have confidence in the people who are doing work there and we don't feel like we are being protected. What will stop this from happening again?”Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.