Suspiciousgasoline containers found on South City produce market grounds

Four mysterious barrels, two containing contaminated gasoline, were discovered by county officials at the Golden Gate Produce Terminal near Produce Avenue, where many Bay Area grocers buy their vegetables.

The 55-gallon barrels had been sitting on the market’s grounds for a month, County officials said, after conducting a routine environmental inspection at the site Thursday. Two of the barrels were filled with contaminated gasoline, one with a mixture of gasoline and water, and the fourth barrel was empty, said Capt. Travis Nuckolls of the South San Francisco Fire Department.

The tanks, which will sit at the northern end of the market until they’re disposed of Monday, do not pose any danger to food or shoppers, said Bill Lent, hazardous materials program manager at the county’s Office of Environmental Health.

“It’s probably old gasoline and someone wanted to get rid of it because it would cost $1,000 to pay a contractor to dispose of it,” Lent said. “It’s probably somebody with an old underground tank or old vehicles.”

He said dumping gasoline is a felony that comes with a $25,000 fine per barrel. Lent planned to examine the barrels in more detail for any clues left by the dumpers.

Mario Caimotto, who works for the produce terminal, said people often dump tires and car batteries on the terminal’s grounds, which he has to collect and deliver to a recycling center nearby.

“It’s a produce market, not a recycling center,” he said.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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