Underground fuel leaks to cost Lake County taxpayers



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - It could cost Lake County taxpayers half a million dollars to clean up a major gasoline leak that happened decades ago.

According to a report, 30,000 gallons of gasoline leaked out of underground pipes near the county's central fuel facility in the '80s and is now in the groundwater about 30 feet underground.

Paying to clean up the mess won't be easy when the county is already dealing with a $15 million budget shortfall.

Because of the fuel, it's believed that Lake Idamere, one of the county's treasures, is in danger.

"I think that would be a disaster if that plume of fuel reached the lake," said Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks.

Public Works Director Jim Stivender told WFTV something needs to be done about the spill.

"Slow leaks are one of the biggest concerns because you don't see them. There's no smoking gun to show it," said Stivender.

Officials said attempts to contain the spill haven't worked and the contamination is spreading. It will cost taxpayers roughly a half a million dollars to sink more well that will catch the fuel and pump it out.

"None of us will be around if we don't get rid of the source," said Stivender.

Some believe the issue should have been dealt with back in the late '90s when the leaks were discovered.

"We've got to correct it now though. It's a mistake of the past. We've got to be very aggressive and there's no choice right now. We have to make sure it's cleaned up," Parks said.