Asbestos drives up cost of decontamination –
By Patricia Beech –
The clean up of abandoned gas stations in the village of Manchester continued last week with the removal of 11 underground tanks from Buster’s BI-LO convenience store located on 2nd Street.
The property has been abandoned for several years according to Holly Johnson, Director of Adams County’s Economic & Community Development Agency (ACECDA).
Johnson said the combined efforts of the ACECDA office, the County Commissioners, and the Adams County Land Reutilization Bank were instrumental in making the site available for cleanup.
“We’ve been trying to get our hands on this location for a long time,” said Johnson. “ Thanks to the land bank, we were finally able to get the property in tax foreclosure.”
Abandoned for more than a decade, the former gas station’s underground storage tanks (USTs) and the associated piping and equipment were not properly closed when the facility ceased operation.
“The presence of these USTs represented a significant environmental concern for the facility that prevented redevelopment of the property to productive use, which means it was also an economic concern for the community,” Johnson added. “Money from this grant is being used to remove the USTs and associated equipment, and to investigate the extent of soil and groundwater impact which has resulted from petroleum leaks or spills from the UST system.”
If tests show that the soil and water have been impacted, further funding is available to either remove or clean up the contamination with carbonate injections that destroy toxic chemicals.
“That’s the part of this grant that is so beneficial, it allows us to see if there is contamination, then provides funds to clean it up,” said Johnson. “We’ve never before had an opportunity to use a grant like this, so we’re taking full advantage of it, and working to get as many dollars as we can to get these sites cleaned up.”
The gas station building, which Johnson says is “full of asbestos” is of particular concern to clean-up crews. She said “it will take quite a few thousand more dollars to get the building done”.
Even though asbestos was largely banned in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, the fibrous material which is linked to various lung ailments is often found in old homes and commercial buildings.
“We’re just hoping the asbestos isn’t in the ground,” said Johnson. “If it is we’ll remove the contaminated soil which will be taken to a certified landfill, then we’ll put clean fresh dirt back in its place.”
When clean up is completed, the site will have an NFA (No Further Action) attached to its deed indicating that the property can be used for commercial, civic, or recreational purposes.
Michael Weinstein, Regional Environmental Manager for Patriot Engineering and Environmental, Inc. was contracted to do the clean up at the BI-LO station. Weinstein’s group also did the clean up work at the Palmer’s Ashland site and the Darby property, both located on 2nd Street in Manchester.
Thus far, seven gas stations have been cleaned up in and around the Manchester area, including two non-commercial locations that previously were gas station sites.
Johnson said, private and public buildings constructed on former gas stations sites are eligible to participate in the clean-up program.
“Anyone who has a tank on their property can call the economic office and we’ll go out and take a look at it,” she said. “We always try to do that ahead of time so that we’ll have some idea what we’re walking into.”
Adams County’s participation in the Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant Program was secured through the efforts of the Board of Adams County Commissioners, the Adams County Economic and Community Development Agency, and the Adams County Land Reutilization Bank.