On April 2, there was a suspected release of diesel fuel leaking into the Oconaluftee River by the Cherokee Mini Mart underground storage tanks (USTs).
On April 3, petroleum product was identified along the river bank by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ (EBCI) Office of Environment and Natural Resources (OENR) Regulatory Specialist. Testing and analysis was completed by the OENR staff to verify the source of the petroleum product. The testing revealed that the petroleum product was leaking from both the diesel and gas USTs of the Cherokee Mini Mart.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 Emergency Spill Response program, along with EBCI Emergency Management (EM), were on-site during the initial phases of clean-up to ensure the proper actions were taken to contain the release. Initially, the NEO Corporation was hired to contain and remove the petroleum product.
Mountain Environmental Group is currently overseeing the continued containment and clean-up of the petroleum product and progress is carefully being monitored by the EBCI Office of Environment and Natural Resources and EBCI Emergency Management. The Tribal OENR Regulatory staff, along with EPA Region 4 and the NC Department of Natural Resources (DENR), continues to collaborate on next steps regarding remediation and clean-up.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the State of North Carolina, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 have a Memorandum of Agreement for collaboration with installation, removal, inspections and regulatory compliance of USTs on EBCI lands.
– EBCI Natural Resources & Construction