Leesburg officials, contending with a second serious gasoline leak in the town this year, hired a consultant last week for $10,000 to determine the source and extent of the problem.

The leak was discovered in June by Chesapeake and Potomac Co. workers while they were installing a cable on Catoctin Circle.

Although the Virginia Water Control Board is conducting an investigation, Leesburg Public Utilities Director Randolph Shoemaker said the town hired the consultant to "take control of the situation." The excavation site has been closed, he said.

The water control board has requested audits from the businesses on Catoctin Circle known to have gasoline storage tanks on their properties, including Southern States Cooperative. The leak was discovered in front of Southern States Cooperative. Southern States officials said they believe the leak did not originate with their company, but they promised full cooperation with the investigation.

Although no trace of the gasoline has been found in storm drains, storm sewers or local streams, Shoemaker said, Leesburg officials are concerned about ground water contamination or explosions if the leak continues. However, there is no "imminent danger," he said.

Shoemaker said the consultant, Woodward-Clyde Consultants, a metropolitan Washington firm, will use a special meter to probe the soil for gasoline contaminants. "The state doesn't have the budget to hire a consultant," Shoemaker said. "We consider this a joint effort but we have to take control and get the investigation moving before something happens."

The leak earlier in the year was at a gas station, also on Catoctin Circle, where station employes discovered a leak in the lines leading to their storage tanks. The company hired a consultant to determine the extent of the leak and oversee its cleanup, Shoemaker said.