0

College Park man cited for storing diesel fuel in garage

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A College Park man faces a reckless conduct charge after police discovered 300 to 500 gallons of diesel fuel stored in his garage, according to Clayton County Police.

"We received complaints from citizens ... in reference to large trucks coming to 841 Pine Shoals Drive in College Park early in the morning hours, frequenting that location," said Clayton County Deputy Police Chief Gregory Porter.

Clayton County Police have charged Wayne Richards, 39, with reckless conduct, but he could face additional charges, according to Porter.

"Just think, with that volume of fuel, if there was a leak, it would have created a huge fire hazard," said Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Chief Alex Cohilas.

Clayton County Police called in the fire department, which brought in a hazardous-materials team to determine whether there were any leaks in the two, 250-gallon plastic containers where the fuel was stored. No leaks were found and the fire department had the diesel fuel removed, according to Cohilas.

"Thank God it wasn't gasoline. Of course diesel fuel is a lot less volatile than gasoline, so you don't have quite the explosive risk. But you have the risk of vapors igniting," said Cohilas.

Richards was also issued citations for operating a business without a license and having two commercial vehicles parked in front of a residential location.

According to a police report, Richards told police he runs his business, Richards and Son Towing, from the home and has been filling up his two wrecker trucks with fuel at the home since January. The report said he told police he bought the fuel from someone named "Ed," but could not provide a last name.

A woman who returned a phone call to Richards' home Wednesday and said she was his wife, denied the business was run from the home. She said she and her husband recently rented a space from which to run the business on Ga. Highway 85 in Clayton County, but did not know the address. She had no comment regarding the diesel fuel allegedly stored at the home.

Reached by phone later, Wayne Richards declined to comment.

"Obviously as a homeowner and just a member of our community I'm very concerned," said Ericka Davis, a former Clayton County school board chairwoman, who lives across the street from the Richards' home. "The worst did not happen, but with what could have happened, it certainly gives you cause for alarm."