Pennsylvania Pipeline Breaks; Roads Closed, Thousands Flee

United Press International

As much as 225,000 gallons of gasoline spewed from a ruptured pipeline near a suburban mall Tuesday, and police closed major highways and evacuated thousands of shoppers, students and residents.

Sun Oil Co. said pumping was stopped and a valve was closed after the leak in its pipeline was discovered at mid-morning. However, leaking continued for hours as unleaded gas flowed into a creek and storm sewers.

Residents Told to Leave

Police went door-to-door telling residents to leave, and a school and the King of Prussia Court shopping center were evacuated.


The Pennsylvania Turnpike, Schuylkill Expressway and other roads around the spill were closed, snarling evening rush-hour traffic.

Police said that no injuries were reported and that the gasoline had started no fire.

Firefighters were flushing storm sewers and other areas affected by the spill in an attempt to dilute the gas and reduce vapors.

Sun Oil spokesman Paul Durkin said that the 14-inch-diameter pipeline was nine miles long between the cutoff valve and the leak and that the section contained 400,000 to 700,000 gallons of gasoline. Late Tuesday he said about 150,000 to 225,000 gallons may have actually escaped.

Durkin said the underground pipeline runs 109 miles between a refinery near Marcus Hook, Pa., near the Delaware state border, and a barge and truck distribution center in Newark, N.J.

Upper Merion Township Police Lt. Robert Piermatteo said about 100 homes and several apartment buildings were evacuated because gasoline spilled into Abrams Creek and flowed through the community, about 15 miles northwest of Philadelphia.


“The gasoline is following a creek bed, and the creek bed runs behind the school,” said Rosemary Dillion, a spokeswoman for the Upper Merion Township School District, where 905 students were evacuated.