The installation of new fuel tanks at the Phillips 66/Miller Mart, 3300 W. Sixth St., has been delayed after a city inspector voiced concern about spilled fuel still at the site.
The city raised the concerns in the wake of an apartment fire caused by leaked fuel at the Presto station on Ninth Street, a contractor working on the site said.
"Because of Ninth Street, we decided to stop completely and see what should be done," said Randy Dolifka, a contractor with Petroleum Equipment Inc., of Kansas City, Mo.
Now, Dolifka and his company will remove more soil from underneath the Miller Mart gas station next week in hopes of having the station up and running again by August, he said.
The spill cleanup at the station began last September after a heavy rain caused the unrestrained, near-empty underground tanks to burst through the concrete surface of the gas station's parking lot, severing the gas lines and spilling fuel into the dirt below.
After months of remediation supervised by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the site appeared ready for new fuel tanks in June.
Property owner Dale Miller said at the time that the contractor would install tanks that week. But during the installation, a city inspector noticed the crew was pumping water from one of the fuel tank pits into the street, Stormwater Engineer Matt Bond said.
"Whatever runoff that collected in those holes, they were pumping it directly out of those holes and into the streets," Bond said. "(Inspector Patty Ogle) was concerned about whatever contamination was coming out of there."
Bond said Ogle told the crew they couldn't pump the water into the street, instead asking them to confine it in some way.
Bond couldn't confirm that the larger leak at the Presto station fueled Ogle's concern, but said the newfound gasoline at the Miller Mart wasn't enough to shut down work there. Ogle was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Miller, the station's owner, said Ogle raised questions and reported the problem to the state.
"They wanted to redo some things, pull out some more dirt," Miller said.
The state received notice of the problem from both the city and the contractor, said Sharon Watson, a KDHE spokeswoman.
Watson said the state then began several conversations with the contractor to ensure more of the contaminated soil would be removed before the new tanks were installed.
Though much of the remediation work is done, finding new amounts of fuel isn't uncommon in spills like the one at Miller Mart, Dolifka said.
"It's just the same contamination," he said. "You can't clean the whole site."
Now, work is slated to resume Tuesday with Dolifka and a state-funded contractor, Lawrence-based Larsen and Associates, digging up and removing more soil from around the tank pits.
Lt. Russell Brickell, of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical, said he will be on-site Aug. 3 to supervise installation of the new tanks.
Brickell said the inspection would include examination of concrete restraints on the tanks, pressure tests and other city fire code requirements.
Miller said he was uncertain when the station would re-open for business.