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National Vacuum employees Robert Stetson, left, and Floyd Hilder dig on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, at the site of a fuel oil spill at the former Getty station at 330 Aviation Road in Queensbury. (Megan Farmer - mfarmer@poststar.com)

QUEENSBURY -- A buried fuel oil tank has been found to be the source of last week’s oil leak at a former gas station on Aviation Road.

The 550-gallon tank was located behind the former Getty station, near where an estimated 30 to 40 gallons were found to have accumulated on the ground behind the station Wednesday.

“They found an unmarked tank containing heating oil that they didn’t have any record of being there,” Queensbury Supervisor John Strough said.

The tank was dug up Friday.

Strough and a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation said the effort to determine how far the contamination stretches is ongoing.

Snow that fell Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to help contain and absorb the oil, Strough said.

Most, if not all, of the contaminated snow has been removed, as was some contaminated soil around the tank, he said.

“The tank was removed along with some contaminated soil,” said DEC spokeswoman Emily Kilburn.

She said the investigation was ongoing as of Monday.

It was unclear whether the tank had been in use. The 330 Aviation Road property’s owner, John Arnold, has not returned repeated phone calls about the issue last week or Monday.

Oil-contaminated water ran off into the storm drain system in the area, and a heavy oil smell was noticeable in the area for several days.

Strough said additional cleanup may be needed in the area, depending on where the oil traveled.

Strough said either the current property owner or one of the prior property owners will be financially liable for the cleanup. Who foots the bill may depend on whether it can be determined who buried the tank.

Matt Sokol, whose family owns the adjacent shopping plaza, said it was unclear whether the leak contaminated the west end of the plaza as well.

“It’s tough to tell at this point,” he said.

He said contractors dug into a dry well on the plaza property to see if contamination stretched to there.

The DEC recommends that those who own properties with underground fuel oil tanks dig them up to avoid situations where contents leak into the ground and aren’t discovered promptly.

The DEC’s guide to underground oil tanks can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/32263.html.

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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