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Archive for Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Station monitoring procedures to be reviewed

May 24, 2006

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A large gasoline leak that fueled an April 30 fire in Old West Lawrence will spur an examination of the laws regulating how gas stations monitor and report leaks.

"The law is not perfect," said Gary Blackburn, director of the bureau of environmental remediation for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The law does have at least two provisions that would allow for leaks to go unreported for significant periods of time:

¢ First, gas stations are not required to report losses of less than 1 percent of the total gallons of gasoline sold in a month.

In the case of Presto Phillips 66 at 602 W. Ninth St., Blackburn said the station sold about 70,000 gallons per month. That would allow about 700 gallons of leakage in a month before triggering a state report.

Dan Riedemann, a builder with Nineteenth Century Restorations, installs a gas vapor sensor next to the sump pump in the basement of Dan Schriner's new home. The house is less than a block from the site of a home that caught fire because of gas leaking from an underground gas storage tank at Presto Phillips 66, 602 W. Ninth St. Schriner said Tuesday that he was pleased that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has a plan to dispose of the leaked gasoline.

Dan Riedemann, a builder with Nineteenth Century Restorations, installs a gas vapor sensor next to the sump pump in the basement of Dan Schriner's new home. The house is less than a block from the site of a home that caught fire because of gas leaking from an underground gas storage tank at Presto Phillips 66, 602 W. Ninth St. Schriner said Tuesday that he was pleased that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has a plan to dispose of the leaked gasoline.

Blackburn said the provision in the state's regulation recognizes that measuring gasoline is an inexact process, especially in older tanks. The tanks at the Presto station were installed in 1978. In many cases, gas station operators use a measuring stick that is stuck into the tanks each night.

"Taking inventory is not an exact science," Blackburn said. "What you have a lot of time is a teenager who is taking a measurement with a stick at midnight, and that is not exact science either."

¢ Second, regulations require there to be two losses of more than 1 percent before a state report is filed. That requirement lengthens the time it takes for state regulators to begin investigating a possible leak.

In Presto's case, store officials in February found statistical evidence they had lost 2,300 gallons of fuel that month. It only was after a loss of slightly more than 1 percent was detected in March that the state was notified.

The result: The state didn't begin investigating the discrepancies until mid-April. Officials ultimately determined the station's pumps had been miscalibrated, allowing customers to receive more than a gallon's worth of gas for every gallon that they purchased.

Now officials say some of the loss was attributed to a small hole in one of the three tanks. Ron Hammerschmidt, director of environment for KDHE, said his department would use the Lawrence incident as a learning opportunity.

"I can tell you that we will sit down internally and see if there needs to be any improvements made to the regulations," Hammerschmidt said.

Doug Wald, a vice president with Presto, said he couldn't comment on whether the state needed to change its regulations.

"We're going to get better, and we're going to make sure we do our part, but I can't tell you what the state needs to do," Wald said.

Presto officials were busy installing new tanks Tuesday. Blackburn said the new tanks will take a "belt and suspenders" approach to detecting leaks. The tanks will have an automated release detection device and observation tubes to allow employees to make visual checks for any leaking gasoline.

"I think they'll be among the best tanks in Lawrence," Blackburn said.

Comments

ASBESTOS 8 years, 7 months ago

"Ron Hammerschmidt, director of environment for KDHE, said his department would use the Lawrence incident as a learning opportunity.

"I can tell you that we will sit down internally and see if there needs to be any improvements made to the regulations," Hammerschmidt said."

Atta BOY RONNIE! Why the heck did you not listen to the EPA over a decade ago with the OIG investigation? You guys did nothing! Need to sit down and discuss this internally? I would guess. You obviously don't listen to any of the Environmental Professionals in the State. We have been saying that for years. OH, and BTW why don't you tell us about all the ORPHAn sites?

2300 gallons is 3 times more than their monthly release allowance under not STATE law, but RCRA regulation. AGAIN these State yahoos refer to thier state regulation and ingnore the federal regulation requirements.

This would not happen if the KDHE and Hammerschmidt did not have a acromonious relationship with EPA. He has fought them the whole time he has been director. THis guy has to go, and if Gary is going to ba an apologist, he should go now. Gary is a good man, but it is time for him to decide what side he is on and what his function is, ie grow a backbone.

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