- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A propane leak at a Southern Maryland Oil facility Friday afternoon closed all lanes of Route 210 in Bryans Road until Saturday morning.
Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Jeff Duer said emergency responders were notified of a liquid propane leak at 3:21 p.m. May 9 at the oil business on Route 210, Indian Head Highway.
John Combs, president of Southern Maryland Oil, said a driver transporting liquid propane to the business noticed the leak after completing his delivery. Combs said the driver quickly notified SMO personnel, and a multitude of first responders were called to the site.
“We were very pleased with the response and all the assistance we were provided during that time,” Combs said.
He said a preliminary investigation determined that there was an automatic shutoff valve malfunction, but exactly why it malfunctioned still is under investigation.
Duer said Charles County sheriff’s officers evacuated nine nearby businesses Friday afternoon.
The incident also affected transportation at three public schools. Parents of students affected were notified by school staff.
Becky Lind, general manager of the nearby Big B’s Discount Liquors in Bryans Road, said the liquor store was completely empty minutes after officers came to the store.
She said she could see and smell the leak.
Those who responded to the scene “did a good job for what they had to handle,” she said.
She said responders acted quickly, and she was glad no one was hurt.
On Friday evening and into the morning hours of Saturday, after a series of attempts to slow the leak, emergency personnel began to offload the 21,500 gallons of propane that was in the tank.
Duer said all but 1,000 gallons of the liquid propane in the tank was offloaded on trailers, and the remaining propane was removed via a controlled burn.
Combs said a tank can never be completely emptied, and controlled burns are done to remove the remaining gas. Combs said the offloaded gas was transported to a facility in Prince Frederick.
He said the incident would not affect customers.
He said the tank is out of service and won’t be put back in service until it is determined what exactly happened and the tank is deemed safe.
He said customers will not see an interruption of service.
Duer said about 8:30 a.m. Saturday both sides of Route 210 were reopened.
He said 65 volunteer firefighters remained on the scene for the duration of the more than 18-hour event. Volunteers from several Charles County and Prince George’s County volunteer fire departments, along with members of the Naval District Washington Fire Department assisted with the call along with representatives from the Maryland Department of Environment, Charles County Emergency Services Hazmat team, the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
Duer said there were no injuries to firefighters or residents during the incident.