UPDATE: August 19, 2013, 10:00 p.m. (ROANOKE COUNTY) -- Officials have determined that the bonding and grounding process was successful and the fuel storage tank on Terminal Drive is now considered to be safe. Fire and Rescue crews have now demobilized and Marathon Officials will now work to determine what caused the original spark. This process is considered to be part of their normal protocols and safe for the public.
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UPDATE: August 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m. (ROANOKE COUNTY) — Roanoke County Fire & Rescue crews, along with several personnel from the Roanoke Fire-EMS Hazardous Materials Team remain on scene of the Marathon Petroleum Co. on Terminal Drive in southwest Roanoke County.
Fire and Rescue crews have set up an on-site command post to manage the hazardous materials incident. Earlier this afternoon the Fire & Rescue Department was contacted when Marathon personnel noticed a spark inside the fuel tank when crews were filling the tank. Because of the static electricity concern related to moving fuel form tank to tank, all company operations were shut down and fire crews were dispatched immediately.
During the late afternoon and early evening hours, officials have looked at several options for mitigating the risk. Crews from the Marathon Petroleum Company are now working to implement a plan to bond and ground the fuel tank in question to eliminate the build-up of static electricity and prevent sparks from causing a fire.
If bonding and grounding process is successful, then the follow-up inspection process of the tank will then be considered normal operating procedure for Marathon Petroleum Company and the Roanoke County Fire & Rescue crews will be demobilized at that time.
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Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department was dispatched at 1:42 this afternoon to the Marathon Oil Storage facility located on Terminal Road off of Starkey Road in SW Roanoke County.
Once on scene, fire crews determined that there was a large fuel tank holding premium octane gasoline with a possible electrical malfunction. All electrical systems were immediately shut down. The fuel tank is about 40 feet tall by 78 feet in diameter and holds 40,000 barrels of fuel when full. At this time, the tank is less than 1% full with about 2100 barrels.
At this time, fire crews are standing by while Marathon Officials devise a plan to empty the fuel tank so that their crews can inspect the inside of the tank. This process of emptying the tanks could take up to five hours. A fire team from the Marathon Oil Company is en route to support the local fire crews on scene. A Haz Mat team from Roanoke Fire-EMS is also on scene assisting with precautionary protocols.
Fire officials have evacuated about a half-mile around the area which includes mostly businesses that have now closed for the day. No further evacuations are planned at this time.
The nearby Norfolk Southern railroad has been shut down as a precaution.