Two injured as Airport Mobil fuel tank is removed

Crews working on removing a pipe from this fuel tank were injured Friday at the former site of Airport Mobil. – Stacey Rupolo

Two people suffered minor injuries Friday afternoon as crews attempted to remove a pipe from a fuel tank at the former Airport Mobil so it could be transported on Island roads, Edgartown Fire Chief Peter Shemeth said.

“I wouldn’t call it an explosion,” Chief Shemeth said. “It may have been a release of vapors from the tank.”

When fire crews arrived, the tank was smoking, Chief Shemeth said. Workers were apparently attempting to remove a pipe from the fuel tank using a steel cutting saw when the incident occurred, he said.

A worker at the scene told a Times reporter it was a “leak” from the tank that caused the incident.

Chief Shemeth said he is awaiting a report from the demolition company before determining a cause. He said two people were taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in a private vehicle. Their injuries were considered minor, though he had not heard anything official.

The incident comes as the former leaseholder Michael Rotondo has been clearing the site of the buildings, equipment and unearthing the fuel tanks from the site ahead of Monday’s eviction deadline. Earlier this month, an Edgartown District Court judge ruled that Mr. Rotondo had to vacate the site by the end of the month.

Instead of making a deal with the new leaseholder, Depot Corner, which offered $250,000 for the equipment and buildings, Mr. Rotondo decided to hire crews to remove the pumps, the store, the car wash and to exhume the fuel tanks at a cost of more than $100,000. Mr. Rotondo told The Times recently that he couldn’t hold his head up if he had taken the money from Depot Corner for the buildings and equipment.

It’s an example of just how bitter this transfer of the lease property is, as are photos obtained by The Times that show signs posted on the site — one blaming the commission for the station closing and the other with a vulgarity…

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