Tequesta propane leak finally sealed after 12 hours; Thousands of residents allowed to return home

TEQUESTA, FL - The leak of a 30,000-gallon tank of liquid petroleum that started yesterday in Tequesta was finally been sealed Friday morning.  Officials said a new valve helped seal the leak.

Residents of about 600 homes were forced to evacuate but were allowed to return home after about 12 hours.  

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue tested the air quality and said it is safe. Area roads have been reopened.

An AmeriGas spokesperson said the cause is still under investigation, but says there was an issue with the pressure release valve. It's unclear what caused the issue.

The spokesperson said it took time to replace the valve because they first had to wait for the pressure to decrease to a certain point.  Then they had to wait for enough gas to be released before it was safe enough for crews to replace the valve.

If AmeriGas is found at fault for the leak, a spokesperson says the company will be reimbursing residents for any associated costs such as hotel expenses.

AmeriGas crews burned off gas that was in the container overnight.  A tanker truck was at the scene Friday morning to remove the remaining gas that wasn't burned off.  The cause of the leak is still being investigated. 

The propane leak forced police to evacuate thousands of people Thursday afternoon as a precaution after the leaked occurred on Old Dixie Highway near County Line Road.

"I just ran out," says Joanne Antonaccio.

Antonaccio had no time to pack when police came to her door.  She says a Palm Beach County deputy told her "It’s gonna blow! Get out. Everyone’s evacuating, going to the church".

She grabbed her dog Molly and drove to St. Jude Catholic Church.  Antonaccio's condo is near the train tracks on Old Dixie Highway.  She saw the leak which she describes as a geyser.

A handful of evacuees went to the church. But others had a different idea.

"It was mandatory so we came to our favorite local, Tequesta Brewery," says Dana White.

White and several other evacuees decided that having a drink at the Tequesta Brewing Company was the best way to pass the time.

"If they’re gonna send the sheriff’s office around asking people to evacuate it’s just kind of the responsible thing to go with what they recommend," says Mike Duggan.

Duggan trried to look on the bright side.

"We’ll see if the gas company picks up the tab," says Duggan.

Statement from AmeriGas on Thursday:

"At approximately 4:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time this evening, our driver observed a leak on a propane storage tank while making a routine delivery at this facility. Emergency responders were immediately contacted, and arrived on scene. There have been no injuries reported, however, authorities have evacuated nearby residents as a precaution. We are working closely with authorities to contain the leak. Once the leak has been stopped, we will continue to work with authorities to determine the cause. The safety of the public is our highest priority."

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