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Groundwater testing wells installed near former gas tanks

City will soon know if groundwater at site is contaminated

Staff writer

The city will soon know if groundwater remains contaminated from two circa-1930s gas tanks unearthed at 1st and Main Sts. last summer during Marion streetscape work.

Workers from Lawrence-based Larsen and Associates were hired by Kansas Department of Health and Environment to drill test wells at the site of a former gas station where the 400-gallon gas tanks were discovered last July.

Don Plumb positioned a geoprobe machine into place last week by using a hand-held remote control device as he walked along beside it.

The geoprobe removes soil samples to test for contamination.

The company is also drilling wells to monitor groundwater at the site and in nearby locations.

One test well was drilled in Webster’s Auto Service parking lot on the south side of Main St., one on each side of 1st St. near the Main St. intersection, one in Liberty Park, one behind Gallery 101, and one in the NAPA Auto Parts parking lot.

Plumb said the work was expected to take about a week.

The tanks were discovered when a sidewalk on the east side of the intersection was excavated as part of streetscape work. Harvey Hett operated a gas station at that location in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

The property later became DeForest Hatchery, where people still drove into the former gas station driveway to pick up their chickens.

At some point the tube-shaped tanks were covered by a sidewalk.

When the tanks were excavated last year, they were so degraded the fill holes in the tops were rusted through. Soil adjacent to the tanks tested below contamination limits, but soil three feet below the tanks was contaminated.

Since the contamination was limited to a small area, the city was allowed to fill it in and lay new sidewalk over it.

Last modified March 12, 2020

 

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