BROOKHAVEN, Pa. (CBS) — A 36-year-old New Jersey man has been charged in a fuel spill that happened at a Delaware County gas station, the district attorney announced Tuesday. George Smith, of Vineland, New Jersey, is charged with causing and risking catastrophe, clean streams law violations, and related offenses in connection to last month’s fuel spill at the Gas N Go in Brookhaven.
The Gas N Go is located at the corner of Coebourn Boulevard and Edgemont Avenue in Brookhaven.READ MORE: Disaster Recovery Centers Open In Montgomery, Chester Counties To Assist Applying For Federal Aid In Wake Of Ida
“We have determined that the defendant’s deliberate actions caused this fuel discharge,” Stollesteimer said in a statement. “As a fuel delivery driver, the defendant was entrusted with a hazardous product – gasoline – and he owed a duty of care to all of us. He chose self-interest over the safety of the Brookhaven community and the safety of the children at Coebourn Elementary School. One of my first actions as District Attorney was to establish an Environmental Crimes Unit, and this prosecution should send a message that we will pursue and prosecute those who commit crimes against our environment.”
Smith is accused of topping off the underground tanks and ignoring over-fill alarms.
Delaware County officials interviewed Smith’s employer, Lee Transport Systems. They obtained records that showed his delivery route and bills of lading, confirming the amount of gasoline acquired at the fuel depot prior to delivery.
Records show Smith filled his truck with 8,500 gallons of gasoline for the delivery on the day of the incident. He was scheduled to make a delivery to the Brookhaven location on the fourth stop of the night. However, he deviated from his planned route and arrived to the Gas N Go first.
A delivery was made at the Gas N Go earlier that day and it was clear from records that the quantity of gasoline carried by Smith would not fit in the underground tanks at the station.READ MORE: New Jersey To Help Resettle About 500 Afghan Evacuees, Gov. Murphy Says
Officials say the gasoline, enough to entirely fill one vacuum truck, flowed off the property of the Gas N Go.
Surveillance video from the station also showed that during the field delivery stop, Smith left his fuel hose on the ground next to the guard rail. This corresponded with the flow of gas that led down the embankment of the gas station and into a small, wooded area between the gas station and adjacent to an elementary school.
The spill involved 4,000 gallons of gasoline and polluted water from a Brookhaven retention basin.
Fish, fox and raccoons have been killed as a result of the spill.
The catastrophic leak forced the closure of Coebourn Elementary, the temporary shutdown of a sewage treatment plant downstream, and will force the excavation of acres of gasoline-soaked wetlands.
Prosecutors were firm moments after Smith was arraigned on serious felony charges, this was no accident, and allege Smith tried to cover it all up.MORE NEWS: 'I Got To Lead By Example': Eagles' Nick Sirianni Does Some Self-Evaluating After 17-11 Loss To 49ers
CBS3’s Joe Holden contributed to this report.