In July 16 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
While installing a gas line for the new judicial center in Jamestown, Walter Martin Construction workers discovered an oil spill caused by leaks from underground tanks at the construction site last Wednesday.
"I decided to call EPA just as a precaution," said H.M. Bottom, Russell County Emergency Management. "The spill wasn't such that it was required to report it but I wanted to call them to be sure it was handled correctly."
Bottom said the old underground fuel oil tanks were previously used for heating purposes and probably were installed when the Lawrence Hotel was located on the site years ago.
"Soil samples will be taken to make sure the area is clean," said Bottom. "We want to make sure everything is taken care of according to state regulations."
Daphne Johnston with Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, Waste Management and John Rogers with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Response Team were on hand to assist with mitigation.
"They are cleaning up a small spill, under the reportable quantity," said Rogers. "We oversee that cleanup."
He said the unused tanks were not required to be removed because oil tanks are exempt from regulations for the same type of removal as gas tanks.
During the three day process, a 5,000 gallon tank and a 3,000 gallon tank were unearthed, emptied, and cleaned before removal.
"We had Southern Environmental Services from Bowling Green come and remove the product from the tanks and pressure wash them to clean them out," said Bottom.
About 75 - 100 gallons of oil was left in the largest tank and about 1,700 gallons of kerosene diesel was left in the smaller tank Bottom said.
"Contaminated soil was separated and placed on plastic to be disposed of properly," said Bottom. "Heating oil is exempt from a lot of the petroleum regulations so it made it a lot easier for us."
Disposal of the tanks' contents and the tainted soil requires specific disposal centers.
"Any contaminated soil will be taken to appropriate waste disposal facilities," said Rogers.
Bottom said the plastic wrapped soil will be taken to a landfill that handles non-hazardous waste.
Contents of the tanks went to an environmental waste disposal center in Franklin, KY and the tanks went to the Russell County metal yard to eventually be recycled he said.
Removal of the tanks and cleanup of the site took three days to complete.
"The problem getting the tanks out was the other utilities nearby," said Bottom. "Water, gas, and fiber optic lines were very close. We had to take care not to disturb the existing utilities."
Officials are satisfied with results of the cleanup.
"The removal went really well," said Bottom. "We had no problems."