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  • Last modified 129 days ago (July 10, 2019)

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Old gas tanks found below sidewalk

Staff writer

Marion’s streetscape project uncovered an unwelcome discovery when two 400-gallon gas tanks were unearthed at 1st and Main Sts.

As a sidewalk on the east side of the intersection was excavated, the two circa-1930s tanks were struck.

Darin Neufeld, project engineer, said the tube-shaped tanks were about 3 feet across and 8 feet long.

“There used to be a gas station there,” Neufeld said. “Sometime, many years later, they were covered over with a sidewalk.”

The gas station at that intersection closed in the late 1930s or early 1940s, he said.

After that, the property was a chicken hatchery, and people still drove into the former gas station driveway to pick up their chickens.

The city had to hire a special contractor to remove the tanks, which were so degraded a small area around the fill holes in the tops were rusted through. Neufeld said the tank removal cost $1,000, but said he didn’t know the charge for the contractor who filled in the hole.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment, notified when the tanks were found, came to oversee their removal and tested for soil contamination.

Neufeld said soil adjacent to the old tanks tested below contamination limits, but soil three feet below the tanks was contaminated. At three feet, testers hit the water table, which was higher than typical because of recent heavy rains.

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

Neufeld said the KDHE inspector recommended the site be listed as a contaminated. At some point, which Neufeld said could be as long as 10 years, KDHE will come back and do further groundwater testing, then decide if the site needs further monitoring.

“The site was small enough it’s not likely ever end up on the list for remediation,” Neufeld said. “I would not say ‘never,’ but I would say not likely.”

Neufeld said he didn’t know what, if anything, KDHE would require the city to do about the contamination.

Neufeld said the downtown streetscape remains on the timeline originally set although the gas tank discovery and removal took two days.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and street dance to celebrate the work on Main St. is planned for 7 p.m. Saturday.

Last modified July 10, 2019

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