Environmental Protection

Contractors Take Out Tanks at Pennsylvania Gas Station Site

Workers are removing six underground storage tanks at the abandoned former Malcolm's gas station and auto repair facility in Warrington, Pa., to determine possible contamination at the property, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a Jan. 14 press release.

In August 2009, EPA distributed $6.16 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to Pennsylvania to assess and clean up underground storage tank petroleum leaks. The abandoned Malcolm's gas station, located at 994 Easton Road, will be assessed for soil and groundwater pollution. The project is being funded because the responsible parties are unable or unwilling to conduct the cleanup.

The greatest potential hazard from a leaking underground storage tank is that petroleum or other hazardous substances seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly one-third of all Americans.

Under a cooperative agreement with EPA, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) will manage the project. In 2002 PADEP inspected the underground storage tanks at Malcolm's and found a multitude of violations including the failure to install and maintain equipment to prevent releases and the failure to conduct regular leak detection on six underground storage tanks, including one 500-gallon tank that is still full of used oil and sludge from the auto repair side of the gas station. The other tanks (two 4,000-gallon tanks and three 6,000-gallon tanks) which held gasoline, diesel and kerosene, have already been removed and were empty. The tanks are between 20 and 30 years old and are made of bare steel, which is subject to corrosion.

The gas station owner failed to install the required leak detection equipment and abandoned the site shortly after the 2002 inspection. The owner subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

After all the tanks are removed, PADEP will sample the surrounding soil and groundwater to determine if petroleum products have been released to the environment, and the nature and extent of any contamination.

The tank removal and site assessment are being conducted by PADEP through local certified contractors. The work is expected to provide two to five temporary jobs and will cost approximately $75,000. The results of the initial assessment will help determine the scope and cost of the cleanup phase to follow.

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