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Archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rain doesn’t cause problems near gas station

August 29, 2006

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Finally, some good news about gasoline.

State regulators confirmed Monday that this weekend's heavy rains did not cause dangerous gasoline fumes to re-emerge in an old West Lawrence neighborhood that was the site of a major underground storage tank leak earlier this year.

Members of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment previously had expressed concerns that heavy rains could cause gasoline that is trapped in the ground beneath homes to rise up through residents' sump pumps, which would create a major fire hazard for the homes.

"It looks like everything held up real well over the weekend," said Randy Carlson, who oversees the storage tank section of KDHE. "We're real happy about that."

In late April, a five-apartment house at 838 La. was destroyed by fire that investigators said was fueled by leaks from an underground storage tank at the Presto Phillips 66 station, 602 W. Ninth St. Investigators concluded that the leaked fuel or fumes were sucked into the home's sump pump and that some electrical spark ignited the blaze.

State regulators have installed vapor alarms in the basements of eight homes in the neighborhood, and Carlson said none of those had sounded.

A small building across the street to the east of the Presto Phillips 66 station at Ninth and Louisiana streets contains equipment to measure levels of gasoline in the ground. Fuel that leaked from underground storage tanks remains in the soil around the station, but rains over the weekend did not cause the gasoline to seep into homes in the neighborhood. After heavy rains in April, gasoline leaked out of the saturated ground into a basement at 838 La., causing a fire that destroyed a five-apartment house.

A small building across the street to the east of the Presto Phillips 66 station at Ninth and Louisiana streets contains equipment to measure levels of gasoline in the ground. Fuel that leaked from underground storage tanks remains in the soil around the station, but rains over the weekend did not cause the gasoline to seep into homes in the neighborhood. After heavy rains in April, gasoline leaked out of the saturated ground into a basement at 838 La., causing a fire that destroyed a five-apartment house.

But Carlson said significant amounts of gasoline remained in the ground.

"The gas isn't gone, but we think we have it pretty well contained," he said.

The state has installed a pump and filtering facility in the neighborhood that is slowly removing gasoline from the groundwater in the area. More than 2,000 gallons of gasoline have been pumped from the area.

Carlson said it was difficult to estimate a timeline for when all the fuel would be removed from the area, though regulators said in May it could take at least a year.

The leak and the house fire have spurred state regulators to begin thinking about changes to the way the state monitors underground gasoline storage tanks.

Gary Blackburn, director of KDHE's bureau of environmental remediation, said the department was considering boosting its inspection efforts.

"We think it would be more likely that we'll catch things before they become problems if we inspect on a more regular basis," Blackburn said. "We think that may be a better strategy than trying to change some of the other provisions."

The state has been questioned about its current reporting provisions. Now, gasoline station operators are not required to notify the state of a possible leak unless they have two consecutive months when gasoline sales and total gallons of gasoline leaving the tank differ by 1 percent or more. In the case of many larger stations, that could allow for more than 1,000 gallons of fuel to leak into the ground before the state is notified.

Blackburn, though, says that 1 percent factor is needed because measuring gasoline is not an exact science, especially given that gasoline expands and contracts as temperatures change.

If the state stiffens its inspections program, it likely would go from a requirement that tanks be inspected once every four years to once every three years, Carlson said. He said several states were looking to adopt that standard for inspections.

Comments

ASBESTOS 7 years, 7 months ago

Gary Blackburn:

"We think it would be more likely that we'll catch things before they become problems if we inspect on a more regular basis," Blackburn said. "We think that may be a better strategy than trying to change some of the other provisions."

TO SOLVE the problem:

  1. GET OUT OF CONSULTING! Then KDHE UST section would have time to do ENFORCEMENT inspections. Leave the counsutling to the private sector, THEY CARRY INSURANCE, KDHE had to pass laws that held them harmless, thought it does not protect them federally.

  2. GET OUT OF CONTRACTING! Then you would have time for ENFORCEMENT INSPECTIONS, and would not have a "conflict of Interest" situation playing the role of Consultant, contractor, regulator, and disburser of the funding. Talk about a cluster!!!

  3. HIRE SOME COMPETENT PEOPLE!! QUIT hiring friends of KDHE, , sisters, brothers, mothers, wives, husbands, etc, Ex-CIty Employees who suck at what they do, and start hiring on qualification, from the environmental business sector! Have a hiring system that is TRANSPARENT and the people KNOW the most qualified was truley hired. Start hiring from the private sector consulting, IE those with EXPERIENCE. KDHE has long been proud of hiring the clueless and then "training them up" to the level of acceptable KDHE incompetence.

  4. STOP RE-WRITING THE FEDERAL LAW! Every time the feds come up with a rule, KDHE has to re-write it in order to play all the roles they want to play, ie, consultant, contractor, regulator, enforcement, etc. JUST ADOPT THE FEDERAL RULE...AS IS. Lots of the states do it EVERY DAY. What makes the Yahoos at KDHE so insightful with regulations? Just adopt the DPS UST regulations and enforcement. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel!!! GEEZ!

  5. PAY ATTENTION TO EPA OIG investigations!! To date KDHE not only ignores the findings of the EPA OIG, but flaunts that activity! The UST PROGRAM long ago 1996 was stated to be in trouble, and KDHE ignored it. Same for the CAFO rules. The Brownfields and the Phase I and II Environmental assessments need to be re-evaluated by an indep[endent board outside of KDHE to see if we have a propagation of errors in the 70 or so odd Brownfield investigation that have been don and signed off on!

  6. The DEADWOOD has got to go! Get back to enforcement of KNOWN environmental problems, and established environmental rules, ie asbestos, lead and UST regulation. If the public is NOT compliying with these issues, Pollution Prevention won't make a helluva lot of difference.

  7. LOOSE THE "PARTNER WITH POLLUTERS* ATTITUDE! Good lord, why would KDHE be nice to a polluter and then turn around and be nasty and unresonable to a person that makes their living by removing pollution and reducing environmental impact? Bass akwards!

  8. Get rid of Dr. Hammerschmidt and Dr. Bremby! These two are responsible for the agency and the shortcomings. There are more shortcomings to be revealed in the near future.

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