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Archive for Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Presto chain fined for fuel tank leak

KDHE imposes $4,900 penalty for station suspected of causing April fire

June 14, 2006

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A convenience-store chain has been fined $4,900 for not detecting a fuel-tank leak suspected of causing an April 30 apartment house fire that left four tenants homeless, a state official said Tuesday.

"They have 30 days to pay it," said Ron Hammerschmidt, director of the Division of Environment at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Under state law, the company, Presto Convenience Stores, may not appeal the penalty.

Presto vice president Doug Wald said the Andover-based company would pay the fine.

"Since this whole thing started, we've done everything we could possibly do," Wald said. "It was never our intent to harm the environment. We've learned from this and, hopefully, it will never happen again."

KDHE has fined eight companies for fuel-tank leaks in the past year, Hammerschmidt said, noting that $4,900 was "more than most - medium to high, I'd say."

Not all of the $4,900 will go to KDHE, he said, noting that $2,000 will be shared with the Lawrence-Douglas County Household Hazardous Waste Program.

Seva Samsonov, owner of Save-A-Buck Electric, works on wiring a small temporary building at 838 La. that will house a vapor extraction system at the site of the April 30 apartment house fire. A convenience-store chain has been fined $4,900 for not detecting a fuel-tank leak suspected of causing the apartment house fire that left four tenants homeless, a state official said Tuesday.

Seva Samsonov, owner of Save-A-Buck Electric, works on wiring a small temporary building at 838 La. that will house a vapor extraction system at the site of the April 30 apartment house fire. A convenience-store chain has been fined $4,900 for not detecting a fuel-tank leak suspected of causing the apartment house fire that left four tenants homeless, a state official said Tuesday.

So far, Hammerschmidt said, cleanup efforts have cost KDHE "a little over $500,000."

Presto is expected to pay the first $5,000. The remainder will come from the Kansas Petroleum Storage Tank Release Trust Funds, a taxpayer-funded account set up to cover the state's costs.

Monitoring the site

Twenty-five monitoring wells and 20 water-level sensors have been installed on and near the Presto store at 602 W. Ninth St.

"We have 19 (sensors) now," Hammerschmidt said. "One got run over by a truck."

KDHE also ordered the installation of a "vapor extraction system" designed to remove gasoline fumes from the soil.

"It requires a blower," Hammerschmidt said, "so we're constructing a building for it. We don't want to disrupt the neighborhood with a lot of the noise."

The building - a large shed - now stands on the vacant lot at 838 La., the site of the former five-apartment house, which was razed after the fire.

The extraction equipment is expected to "run continuously for about a year," Hammerschmidt said.

Fire investigators have said the blaze was fueled by gasoline that had migrated through the groundwater from a leaking underground tank at the Presto station across the street. The gas, investigators concluded, was sucked up through a sump pump in the house and ignited by a spark from the pump or a pilot light on the furnace or hot water heater.

Absence of gasoline

Hammerschmidt said most of the gasoline appears to have been removed from the site.

"The fact that it's not showing up in the (monitoring) trenches is encouraging," he said. "Of course, Lawrence hasn't had a heavy rain since all this happened. That'll be the real test."

Gasoline sales at the Presto store resumed Friday.

"It's going really well," Wald said. "We're ahead of where I thought we'd be. Once we get the east entrance opened up, we should be in good shape."

The east entrance, which borders Louisiana Street, was torn up when the store's tanks were removed.

For now, neighbors appear satisfied with both KDHE's and Presto's efforts.

"I don't like that it happened, but I figure we've got the cleanest gas station in town," said a woman who lives about a half-block from the store. She asked that her name not be used.Hammerschmidt said Presto has agreed to upgrade its tank-monitoring equipment and manager training at all 41 of its stores in Kansas, beginning with the four in Lawrence.

The upgrades, he said, will include installation of "observation tubes" in a stores that don't have them now.

"I never want to go through this again," Wald said. "I can't tell you how much sleep I've lost over this."

Comments

Sigmund 8 years, 6 months ago

Ok, I'll bite. How has the KDHE mishandled this case?

Raider 8 years, 6 months ago

Go back and read some of the related stories. Presto reported missing gallons of gas to KDHE back in February. KDHE came out and checked it, told Presto there was no leak and it must be an accounting mistake. After the house burned down, KDHE tested the tanks and still found no leaks. They had the tanks removed, and guess what,..... there was a small leak. KDHE is partially responsible for this b/c the missing fuel was reported to them on more than one occassion.

Topside 8 years, 6 months ago

Please don't confuse there with their.

Sigmund 8 years, 6 months ago

Had forgotten the fact that Presto had reported missing gasoline as required by law, and that the KHDE had investigated and decided it must be a failure of meter reading. It was not an insignificant amount either. I do wonder if this is an isolated case of incompetence or if this SOP for the KDHE. I haven't been very impressed with those who I know, or know of, who work there.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 6 months ago

From 5/24/06 LJWorld:

"The state estimates it will spend about $300,000 to clean up the site and surrounding neighborhood. The state is using money from a special fund created to pay for groundwater cleanup projects."

Now Ronnie states:

"So far, Hammerschmidt said, cleanup efforts have cost KDHE "a little over $500,000.""

We haven't reached a month yet and exceeded the extimate for the project by $200,000 and are halfway to the million cap!

These are the GUYS that do the envieonmental decision making in our state??!!?? What is really going on at Farmland and SFAAP?? Do they really deserve our trust? I think NOT! And after all these mistakes, there is a $4900 fine!! THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!!

An Environmental Company who did oversight on a UST in the exact same situation would have KDHE crawling all over them and inside various orifaces. KDHE IS A FARCE and need REFORMATRION NOW! Sorry Ronnie you gotta go, and Sec Bremby, if you don't ask for his resignation, you gotta go.

How many different failures and program snafus does KDHE have to show us before someone takes the position of the Kansas Taxpayers and Public?

This agency is in the toliet and every one of their programs, MOA's, Consent Orders, and SIP should be looked over with a critical review of a third party...hoepfully made up of Kansas Environmental Business owners.

Get it together KDHE!!! FIre some people!!!

Packman 8 years, 6 months ago

I'm just glad that after the fact that a multi-resident house blew up, a half million dollars spent to detect/clean-up the problem, and a month of the Presto neighbors living in fear of "heavy rain" and the destruction it may bring, the KDHE awarded the contract for wiring the monitoring building to "Save-A-Buck Electric".

Nothing like a name to inspire confidence!

Rumor is (and you'll only read it here) they also used "Save-A-Buck Gas-leak Inspections" (motto - "A dollar saved is a dollar burned") back in February.

MonsterMan 8 years, 6 months ago

Asbestos, sounds like you have nothing but a personal grudge against KDHE. It is amazing how people like you can twist events and now everything is KDHE's fault. A birdie told me you have pursued employment with KDHE many times and they will not hire you. Thank God.

Godot 8 years, 6 months ago

I agree with Asbestos, even though I also think that he is seeking revenge for who knows what.

A $4,900 fine is paltry in light of the damage done, and the KDHE should never be in charge of a clean up. The KDHE should monitor the work of licensed professionals, not to do the work themselves.

Makes me wonder if the small fine is a payoff to the Presto people to keep them from telling the truth about the lapses of the KDHE.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 6 months ago

"I also think that he is seeking revenge for who knows what."

You are right Godot, I am seeking a change, it is not revenge though it is to get KCHD out of the Consulting Business and Back into the Regulation and Enforcement business. As you stated:

"... and the KDHE should never be in charge of a clean up. The KDHE should monitor the work of licensed professionals, not to do the work themselves."

That is EXACTLY WHAT my agenda is. KDHE needs to be a regulatory body, not a consutling entity. That was a decision that should have never been made. If you have ever worked with the regulators from KDHE you would find they are as a whole clueless about why the regulations exist, care less about enforcement, and are more critical with an environmental business that turns a profit cleaning up a pollution event, that tne initial polluter.

KDHE partners with polluters, and unequally regulated the business sector that actually does the cleanup. There is also too much coziness between KDHE and the Cities who get with the environmental and safety equilivant of murder.

Yes I do have an agenda, but it really started when KDHE dumped 19 truckloads of comtaminated soil by the Kaw off Downtown Lawrence, and then tried to coverup the event.

The KDHE needs to be reformed and cleaned up. It is corrupt, ineffective, and impotent. ANd the Genuises there are so arrogant, now that the spotlight is on them they are shrinking violets and show they have no backbone or ethic either.

Is this the type of personnel you want looking out for your clean air, clean water, and clean environment? BTW, have you seen all the effort that KDHE is putting in doing the work for the Cattle producers for the Confined Feeder operaters runoff program? Why are taxpayers paying AGAIN for an already subsudized business sector? See what I mean. This hole just keeps getting deeper.

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