After months of investigation and calling Triangle Oil a “possible responsible party,” the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is now saying the John Day gas and oil distributor is responsible for the release of 1,000 to 5,000 gallons of “fresh” gasoline into the ground along the 400 to 600 block of South Canyon Boulevard.

“The estimate that I came up with was very rudimentary, “ said Bryn Thoms, DEQ’s project manager. “We assume gasoline is a millimeter thick on the surface of the groundwater in an area that covers about two blocks.”

When asked about what is meant by “fresh,” Thoms said the groundwater, in speaking of just a few instances, smells like gasoline from the pump at a gas station.

Meanwhile, Triangle Oil, which has cooperated since the beginning when property owners first noticed noxious vapors emitting from their basements and crawl spaces continues to conduct its own investigation under a unilateral order issued by DEQ, according to Brooks Foster of the Portland-based law firm Chenoweth Law Group, P.C., that now represents Triangle Oil.

“Triangle Oil’s data suggests it is not responsible for the vapor issue on the west side of the highway,” said Foster. “So far, our data suggests we’re not responsible for it, and it’s an ongoing investigation.”

Triangle Oil is located on the east side of Canyon Boulevard.

“They’re (Triangle Oil) cooperating and doing the work,” said Thoms. “Eventually, Triangle Oil will take over on the work in the neighborhood. We’re just doing a control part, asking them to do an additional assessment and cleanup.”

That’s, however, if Triangle Oil is the responsible party, an issue that remains unresolved, according to their attorney.

Meanwhile, DEQ is still waiting for additional lab results and the investigation continues at Triangle Oil.

Thus far, all groundwater samples taken by DEQ down-gradient from Triangle Oil were contaminated.

“None of the up-gradient (samples) were contaminated. That’s our main indicator,” said Thoms. The other indicator, according to Thoms, is no other source has that capacity of gasoline, noting they found nothing at Ed Staub and Sons Petroleum to the south.

For his part, Russ Young, president and owner of the company, empathizes with those inconvenienced in any way.

“As a small, close-knit community, we are all affected by this situation. Triangle Oil, Inc., is committed to determining whether the recent gasoline odors along South Canyon are in any way related to its bulk plant facility,” Young told the Eagle in an earlier statement.

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