The Fairfax City Council has given preliminary approval to measures to tighten safety at the gasoline storage terminal on Pickett Road, where 300,000 gallons of gasoline overflowed from a storage tank May 14, forcing 350 residents to evacuate their homes.
The council voted Tuesday night to support an ordinance that would require weekly inspections of alarms in the gasoline tanks there. An alarm in an American Oil Co. tank failed the morning of the May spill.
The council further recommended that the four oil companies that use the 29 gasoline tanks there improve their internal procedures so that workers are more aware of the petroleum levels in tanks.
Finally, the council urged the Virginia General Assembly to pass legislation requiring the training and licensing of people involved in shipping and pumping petroleum.
The council's initial votes on the three safety measures were unanimous. The ordinance requiring regular inspections of the alarms in the gasoline tanks will be given further consideration at a public hearing July 21.
A city spokesman said it is considered the backbone of the new safety measures and stipulates that the city fire marshall oversees the inspections, and receive records on the tanks.
Violation of the ordinance would be considered a misdemeanor. If favorably received at the public hearing and given final approval by the council, it would be effective Jan. 1.
The gasoline spill May 14 was considered highly dangerous by officials. About 300,000 gallons spilled from Tank No. 5, into a moat around the tank farm, and then into a nearby pond, forcing evacuation of a nearby town house project.
"It was like a bomb," said city spokesman Thomas R. Welle. The cleanup took about 48 hours.