The state is now taking bids to clean up underground storage tanks using money from the federal stiumlus package passed in February. Elaine Douskey oversees the state’s Leaking Underground Storage Tanks program or “LUST.” Douskey says they have 2.6 million dollars to clean up the underground tanks.
She says these are sites where they’ve document petroleum releases and assessed their risk based on the state and federal guidelines. Douskey says they have a list of potential sites, but she isn’t sure how many might be covered by these funds. Douskey says the E.P.A. has asked that they focus on “shovel ready” projects with the goal of cleaning up and closing the sites while spending the money rather quickly.
“So we’re looking at sites where we think we can relatively easily assess them and maybe get them cleaned up in a relatively short period of time,” Douskey says. There’s one other factor in picking the sites. Douskey says the other main thing the E.P.A. wants is for them to focus on the sites where they don’t know who the “responsible party” is or the responsible party for the tanks is unable or unwilling to pay and the state has been forced to take some sort of action against them.
Douskey says the tanks are located mostly at abandoned gas stations. She says many are at the site of what used to be so-called “mom and pop” gas stations that closed after a change in regulations.
Douskey says there was a change in federal requirements that required businesses to upgrade the tanks to better quality tanks, better technology to detect underground leaks and prevent overflows by 1998 . She says many gas stations didn’t want to spend the money to upgrade and closed down.
Douskey says the money was just released a few weeks ago and it will take some time to get the actual work underway. Douskey says it take three to four months to put the bids out, score the bids and then approve the contracts. The contracts also have to be approved by federal officials, so she says they hope to let the companies get to work in November.
Douskey says they hope to be able to get some of the work done before cold weather sets in. She says the time it takes to finish work at each site varies depending on how much of the soil and piping has to be fixed. Dousky says the state started registering underground tanks in the mid 1980’s.
She says they have about 6,000 LUST sites, and they’ve determined about 4,500 either didn’t need any attention or they took action to clean them up — leaving around 1,400 sites that still need some attention. Douskey says a majority of the open cases have someone who is responsible for them and have money to clean them up.
The sites that don’t have someone responsible for them will be targeted for the stimulus money. You can find out more about the LUST program on the D.N.R.’s website .