HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)– Three weeks after a Colonial Pipeline leaked 63,000 gallons of gasoline, the company is asking some residents to switch from well to city water.
“I’m a little bit concerned,” said Shannon Ward, who has lived near the leak site for more than 20 years.
As crews continue to assess the damage, Ward wants to know if her drinking water is safe.
“We really like the well water,” she said. “It’s one of our favorite things about the house.”
Ward lives on Asbury Chapel Road in Huntersville, about 1500 feet south of the pipeline leak. She says officials have been testing her water and taking samples “every week to two weeks.”
The company said the results found no contaminants in the water.
“We want to assure the community that, at this time, all data has indicated no detections of petroleum constituents in residential water wells,” a Colonial official said in a statement. “Nevertheless, Colonial is currently working with residents within a 1,500 foot radius with residential wells to execute a proactive strategy that should alleviate any concerns about access to drinking water.”
That strategy, it seems, is to offer some residents a one-time $1000 payment to switch from well water to city water with a promise to never sue, according to a contract given to Ward, which was shown to FOX 46.
“He wanted to do it in a timely fashion,” said Ward, recounting what a Colonial official told her. “He wanted to hook us up quickly and not wait and we feel like that’s hasty. We don’t really want to do that if it’s not necessary.”
Ward says “at least four” of her neighbors have received similar offers while others have not heard anything. She wants to know why some homeowners are being singled out and if Colonial Pipeline knows something they don’t.
“They’re playing their cards close to their chest,” she said. “Not wanting to say anything that could be a liability to them.”
The pipeline carries gas from the Gulf of Mexico up the east coast. In 2016, the company agreed to pay more than $3 million to cover damages after nearly 12,000 barrels of gasoline were spilled in Alabama.
“We have a very deep well,” said Ward, “and I’m hoping it won’t be contaminated.”
State senator wants answers
Ward reached out to state Sen. Natasha Marcus on Facebook (D-Mecklenburg County). On Labor Day, Marcus started making phone calls and demanding answers.
“What I’m hearing on the ground from people who live near this spill, this leak,” said Marcus, “they’re telling me something different than what Colonial Pipeline had told me at our most recent update.”
Marcus has been pushing for accountability from Colonial Pipeline since the gasoline leak. She is concerned that the company asking some homeowners to sign contracts to cap their wells and promise not to sue.
“It is concerning when residents on the ground are having these offers, kind of high-pressure offers, to hurry up and sign away their legal rights in return for the ability to hook up to city water,” said Marcus. “We need to know why, we need to know if there’s contamination, we need to know why some residents are getting this offer and not others. So, it’s concerning and I appreciate you looking into it.”
Marcus is calling on the company to expand its testing to ensure the water residents are using to drink, and cook with, is safe.
“It’s a very serious gasoline leak in Huntersville,” said Marcus. “And we cannot take it lightly.”
The company plans to provide an update at Tuesday’s town board meeting, Marcus said. She plans to be there.
The meeting starts at 6 pm at is held at the Huntersville Recreation Center.
Colonial Pipeline Response
Colonial Pipeline officials tell FOX 46 they have a “commitment to health and safety” and provided the following statement.
“We want to assure the community that, at this time, all data has indicated no detections of petroleum constituents in residential water wells. Nevertheless, Colonial is currently working with residents within a 1,500 foot radius with residential wells to execute a proactive strategy that should alleviate any concerns about access to drinking water. State rules, enforced by NCDEQ, set a broad radius to be as protective as possible to water supplies. If data indicates a need to expand the residential well sampling radius at any point in the future, Colonial will adjust as needed under the guidance of the NCDEQ [North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality].”