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Tanks go in ground despite contamination



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Dave Manna, foreman for Oscar W. Larson, operates an excavator as Christopher Barber spreads pea gravel during the installation of new takes at the Goodrich Schools Bus Garage. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
December 08, 2010 - Goodrich- After underground storage tanks at the school district's bus garage failed a Department of Environmental Quality test and were removed, two replacement units were installed last week.

Approximately 2,000 cubic yards of oil-contaminated soil and about 1,000 gallons of petroleum-tainted water were detected at the site of the tanks when they were removed from the ground last August. Since then, the district has been working with two insurance companies to determine financial responsibility for the release.

The underground fuel storage tanks are located at the district bus garage north of Erie Street in the village.

Michael Tripp, school board president, said the project to replace the tanks was expedited due to the approaching winter weather and deadlines for the contractor, Oscar W. Larson Company.

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"The project had been delayed as the insurance companies decide who owes for the cleanup," said Tripp. "There is greater motivation to settle this issue with the tanks out of the ground."

Tripp said the project should be completed in about two weeks and the tanks should be operational in January.

Randy Spiller of Oscar W. Larson Company, overseeing the project for the district, said the source of the contamination was limited to the area around the tanks. The new tank went in the same location as the old tanks were— soil in the impacted area was removed. The school purchased a 15,000 gallon fiberglass compartmentalized underground tank. The tank is divided into a 10,000 gallon section for diesel and a 5,000 gallon side for gasoline. The cost to the district is $125,042.

Problems with the underground tanks started when a DEQ report indicated that some of the fiberglass used to coat the inside had flaked off one of the tanks and a second tank was out of round. A third tank was still in good condition. Soil samples were taken around the tanks, along with core samples in the vicinity of the tanks and bus garage. The tanks, which were installed in the 1970s and had been lined with fiberglass about 16 years ago, were never tested for leaks. The process of coating the tanks with a spray-on liner of fiberglass or epoxy was used to comply with a 1998 mandate to meet federal standards for underground storage.

Officials from Oscar Larson Company determined that the contamination appears to be many years old—nothing from the existing system.

District Superintendent John Fazer said the cost estimates range from $100,000 to $200,000 for the cleanup.

"It really depends on how far the cleanup goes," said Fazer.

"Insurance companies are trying to determine when the release of fuel occurred that contaminated the ground. That will decide which insurance company will pay for the soil to be removed. Right now we are patiently awaiting word from the insurance company. Monitoring wells have been drilled around the suspected area to assure safety to the environment. The test indicates that the spilled fuel is not moving."

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