By DAVID COLBURN
Workers drilled for additional soil samples last week at the former Peabody Food Mart location at 9th and Walnut Sts., a prelude to possible storage tank excavation that could begin before summer.
However, cleanup of petroleum-contaminated soil could take much longer, according to a Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials.
“The site is known to be significantly contaminated from leaking gas tanks,” KDHE public information officer Kara Titus said.
Two 6,000-gallon tanks for unleaded premium gas and diesel and a 10,000-gallon tank for unleaded regular were installed in 1984.
Problems with the gasoline tanks were discovered in December 2002 when a KDHE inspector noted a trend of “several months of excessive loss,” and gasoline appeared in monitoring wells. Both tanks were denied 2002/03 operating permits, and both failed tightness testing in 2003. All three tanks were officially taken out of service in October 2012.
Ownership of the property transferred from Coastal Mart to O & J of Kansas in 2001, but Coastal Mart’s subsidiary, El Paso Remediation Company, has an agreement with KDHE to remove the tanks.
“The date of tank removal has not been set, but it is hoped that this work will occur sometime this spring,” Titus said.
A “significant volume” of contaminated soil will likely be removed along with the tanks, Titus said; however, contaminated soil will remain.
An environmental consultant will be retained to determine “how best to mitigate the impact of residual petroleum-contaminated soil and groundwater,” Titus said.
“Clay soils are difficult to remediate in-situ,” she said. “This is likely a long-term project due to the nature and extent of the gasoline-contaminated clay soil that cannot be removed by excavation.”