86,000 gallons of gasoline leaks from store in Chino Valley
Circle K, ADEQ testing wells, soil: contamination not detected yet

Areas of the Circle K parking lot at 1910 N. Highway 89, Chino Valley, are closed and sealed as officials work to assess the extent of a gasoline release that happened between December 2023 and early January 2024. (Stan Bindell/For the Courier)

Areas of the Circle K parking lot at 1910 N. Highway 89, Chino Valley, are closed and sealed as officials work to assess the extent of a gasoline release that happened between December 2023 and early January 2024. (Stan Bindell/For the Courier)

A Circle K store in Chino Valley reported that an estimated 86,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline has been released into the subsurface soil.

Initial tests of private drinking water wells in the immediate area show no new impacts from the release from the Circle K at 1910 N. Highway 89, Chino Valley.

Chris Barnes, interim head of Global Communications for Circle K, said in a statement that “nothing is more important than the safety of our customers, employees and the communities we serve, as well as the protection of the environment and natural resources. In this regard, we are working closely with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and contracted environmental specialists to assess and remediate an underground fuel discharge that occurred late last year at our store in Chino Valley.”

Barnes said a thorough investigation into fuel inventory discrepancies and other anomalies dating back to mid-December 2023 revealed fuel leaking from a submersible turbine pump used to pump fuel from an underground storage tank to the store’s fuel dispensers.

“We repaired the leak on Jan. 3 shortly after making the discovery. While we are still working to determine the full quantity of the product lost from the tank system, we believe the release may be as much 86,000 gallons,” he said.

Barnes said Circle K takes this issue very seriously: “We are conducting tests of subsurface soil and groundwater and will remediate any affected area as directed by ADEQ. Initial samples taken from several nearby private water wells showed no detectable levels of contaminants, but we will continue to sample and test drinking water wells near the store for any sign of threat to water quality.”

Barnes said Circle K remains in regular communication with ADEQ on all aspects of this matter. “As always, we appreciate ADEQ’s guidance, partnership and direction as we tend to the needs and concerns of our Chino Valley neighbors, customers and team members,” he said.

Caroline Oppleman, communications director for Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said that ADEQ and Circle K are aware that residents in the immediate vicinity of the Circle K release get their drinking water from private wells; the nearest public water supply well is part of the Town of Chino Valley’s public water system and is located more than a mile away.

Oppleman told The Daily Courier that gas is a highly regulated industry with inspections and maintenance. She said this was a large release of unleaded gas, and Circle K is taking the actions that need to be taken.

“We appreciate the action taken by Circle K,” she said.

ADEQ has advised Yavapai County Health officials about the situation and also is coordinating with officials from the Town of Chino Valley. As additional information becomes available, ADEQ will continue to provide updates.

Chino Valley Mayor Jack Miller could not be reached for comment prior to press time. Chino Valley Councilman John McCafferty said Chino Valley has no jurisdiction over the matter as that jurisdiction falls on ADEQ.

“ADEQ takes any release of fuel into the environment seriously,” ADEQ Waste Programs Division Director Julie Riemenschneider said in a news release. “ADEQ is committed to working with Circle K to ensure swift and appropriate actions are taken to protect public health and clean up the release.” To determine environmental impacts associated with the fuel release and the corrective actions that will be necessary, Circle K has proactively initiated an investigation of soil and groundwater in the area and is working closely with ADEQ.

Out of an abundance of caution to ensure private wells in the immediate area are not affected by this fuel release, Circle K is notifying nearby private well owners and is contacting them to request permission to collect and test well water samples.

Preliminary results from private well tests in the area show the wells have not been affected by the release. Circle K will provide the results of all private well tests to ADEQ and to the well owners.


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