A long-forgotten diesel tank under a defunct gas station in Bushwick is the likely source of the smell that has stunk up the L train this week, MTA officials told the Daily News Thursday.
The gas station — which was either a Hess or Shell outlet — was abandoned more than 20 years ago at the intersection of Metropolitan and Bushwick avenues in East Williamsburg, said the sources.
The abandoned tank — which holds a batch of diesel No. 2 fuel — is between the Graham Ave. and Grand St. stations, where L riders say the smell is most pungent.
“We were told by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that [the tank] was not removed due to the proximity of that gas station to the tunnel,” an MTA official said.
MTA officials said they only became aware of the old tank on Thursday.
It’s unclear what caused the abandoned tank’s contents to seep into the tunnel — but the state planned a more “invasive investigation” overnight Thursday to look into the issue.
Diesel No. 2 fuel is commonly used in trucking and, occasionally, for home heating. “It’s raw fuel,” said MTA spokesman Maxwell Young. “It can give you a headache or nausea, depending on the individual.”
The MTA is not 100% sure that the fuel is coming from the defunct gas station, though.
“Another possibility is that it came from the Greenpoint spill,” said MTA security chief Bobby Diehl. That 18 million- to 30 million-gallon spill, at a long-abandoned fuel refinery about a mile away from the L tunnel, resulted in a $25 million lawsuit with the state in 2010.
The Greenpoint spill has been a source of contamination in north Brooklyn for decades.
The fumes hospitalized at least four MTA employees this week, as workers and riders complained the stench caused them headaches and nausea.
Because of the stench, Transport Workers Union Local 100 pulled platform conductors who were managing crowds at several L train stations on Thursday.
“The L-train situation is completely unacceptable,” said Local 100 president Tony Utano. “The air still stinks and we are concerned about long-term exposure and the health of our members working eight-hour shifts along the line.”