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Tests show no evidence of fuel spill at Hernando airport facility

BROOKSVILLE — Despite reports that between 80 and 400 gallons of fuel had leaked onto the ground at the former Brooksville Air Center, soil tests of the site say otherwise.

While trace amounts of chemicals were found, they fell below the standards that would trigger a state-ordered cleanup, said Ana Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which reviewed the report Wednesday.

"We're very happy that there was no contamination,'' said Gary Schraut, chairman of the Hernando County Aviation Authority. "I am concerned that the taxpayers have had to incur the expense of testing … when it appears that nothing has happened.''

Airport officials learned of the possible fuel spill at the now-defunct fixed base operator at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport during last week's County Commission meeting. Paul Douglas, who had visited the site with former manager Robert Rey, told commissioners that the fuel was spilled months ago but was never reported to the state.

County officials met with Douglas at the site later that day, contacted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to report a possible spill, then ordered tests.

Schraut said he anticipated that the airport would move forward with plans to purchase the air center facility for $1.25 million on Monday. The airport already owns the land.

Douglas said he actually saw fuel leaking at the site and questioned whether the county tested where he told them to check. He and Rey have been trying to convince county officials that they are paying too much for the site.

Two commissioners had raised questions about the large difference between the appraisal the county obtained, which was for $1.4 million, and one Rey requested, which was for between $790,000 and $940,000.

Schraut said he believes those questions have been answered.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Tests show no evidence of fuel spill at Hernando airport facility 04/17/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:23pm]
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