GOWANDA — The state Department of Environmental Conservation is working with Cattaraugus County Public Works officials on a plan to safely remove a runaway diesel fuel tank from Cattaraugus Creek.
Kayakers found the 500-gallon red-orange tank, washed downstream by the heavy rains of July 16, in Cattaraugus Creek on Friday near a natural formation at the west end of Valentine Flats known to kayakers and white water raft enthusiasts as “Cruncher.”
The site was described as near the end of Valentine Flats Road in the town of Persia, east of the village of Gowanda.
The kayakers who reported the tank to DEC on Friday said there was a smell of fuel from the tank. DEC officials have indicated it’s unclear how much diesel fuel remains in the tank.
The tank was not immediately reachable from land due to high water in the creek.
The fuel tank, which was about half-full at the time of the July 16 storm, was washed away by floodwaters from a bridge construction site on Tannery Street in the village of Cattaraugus.
The floodwaters carried the bobbing fuel tank 6-7 miles down the South Branch and nearly a mile down Cattaraugus Creek before it got hung up at Cruncher.
The construction site was destroyed by the floodwaters that carried large stones, trees and other debris. Steel framing for the foundation of the $2.1 million bridge was severely bent out of shape.