The story is funnier with all the details, but time prohibits.
About 17 years ago my son parks his car out front of the house and goes to bed early. A half hour later, my neighbor tells me my son's car is leaking gasoline and he can smell it inside his house. Yep! I looked to find a hole in the tank; leaking at about the rate of a urine stream. I rush to the tool drawer and retrieve a rubber faucet washer and tapping screw to plug the leak.Following that, I got the garden hose and flushed the gasoline down the storm sewer. Problem solved.
I awoke my son of the incident, and he responds: "Oh yeah, Dad. "I ran off the road and drove over a two-posted sign. No one was around so I drove off. "I noticed my gas tank was leaking, so I plugged it with chewing gum."
Another 30 minutes passes, and the neighbor is back at the door. "Your son's car is leaking gas, really bad. He adds: " The fumes are now all over the neighborhood, so I called the fire department, in case someone tosses a cigarette out near it." I rush back outside and re-inspect the now, larger leak. (Did you know gasoline will melt through a rubber faucet washer?)...
The fire department arrives and up go these large telescoping stadium lights. Great! The entire neighborhood is now out in their front yards, curiously watching this now bright lightly lit civic fau paux. We were the new neighbors and now I'm wondering if we will ever be accepted. I lay the hose under the car to keep the flush going while I unsuccesslfully try every common household material known to man to bung plug the hole.
The fire chief hollers for me to turn off the water, while he is calling on his radio...
Within 20 minutes, a small army of white EPA SUV's arrive and cordon off the entire neighborhood from traffic. Oh No! I swear, it looked just like the final scene from E.T. I kid you not! White and yellow, radiation looking, respirator suits and all..
EPA and Fire Chief: "Mr. M. YOU HAVE JUST CAUSED A MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER!" your flushing of fuel into a storm sewer has fed into a wooded and area creek behind the subdivision." I hope you have good homeowner's insurance, because this is going to take tens of thousands of dollars to clean up!!!" Me: "OH $--T!!
I tried to explain to them that I, as a firefighter years ago, was taught that standard practice following an auto accident, was to flush away gas and oil, and I relayed the words of a past chemistry teacher" The solution to pollution- is dilution" Right? WRONG! The NEW solution is CONTAINMENT!
By now, the gas tank was empty, My status as a well liked new neighbor was spent, and I was in trouble with the federal government. I plead ignorance and good intentions, based on my prior training.
The sewer and creek? Yellow containment booms, just like you see in the oceans. Soil scraped and removed, This stuff couldn't be put out to the trash, but needed a special truck to treat, burn and recycle the materials. Me? Well, let's say I kept a low profile for awhile....
I can look back and uneasily chuckle about it now, but at the time it was more worrisome, than funny.