The EPA, What it means for Oil Tank Clean Decommissioning in Portland, Oregon

Just after 8 o’clock yesterday I received and email from a past client that started like this: “Well, this mornings article in the Oregonian was terrifying.” He knows there is an oil tank on his property that has not been decommissioned because it was tested when he bought it but as it is hard to access the test results we only parital.  Good reason to be scared after reading the article titled New EPA and Oregon rules double costs for home oil tank cleanup.  The headline is really quite alarming.  It’s accurate too but the headline is blanket statement but the quote below in the story qualifies:

Other property owners have made similar discoveries since January, when the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality adopted the federal standards for naphthalene and ethylbenzene, common compounds found in home heating oil. The new rules affect the 1,200 to 2,000 underground heating oil tanks that are decommissioned statewide each year.

Don Francis, an environmental consultant and general manager at EcoTech, said a quick look at a handful of his projects certified under the old standard showed that most would require soil removal under the new rules.

I talked via email with Phil Brewer, President of Alpha Environmental.  He confirms that my assessment is accurate: “If you had a straight decommissioning or contamination below 2500 ppm, you still have the same clean up now that you had prior to the rules changing.  If you have more than 2500 ppm you have a 50/50 chance of a bigger cleanup than you had prior to the rules changing.”

Phil Brewer adds:

On the sites that are affected by the lower Napthalene and Ethylbenzene limits, we have to remove soil and sometimes a risk-assessment needs to be performed as well.  Since sites vary significantly that means an additional cost of around $500 to $3,000 on average.  Some sites with extensive contamination can potentially cost even more and it is possible that some sites cannot be closed with current cleanup techniques.  For example, if contamination has spread beneath the house and Napthalene and/or Ethylbenzene in that soil are still above indoor air standards then you could not meet the new standards without impacting the structure.

With new rules, the outcome isn’t always clear what the outcome is going to be but the consensus is that some, not all cleanups, are going to be more expensive.

The photo is of a decommissioning in progress where the was contamination.  The top and bottom of the tanks is removed, leaving the walls in place to maintain soil stability.

One Comment on “The EPA, What it means for Oil Tank Clean Decommissioning in Portland, Oregon

  1. Its better to decommission your tank for safety. Be sure to call tank decommissioning specialist for that work.

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