With around 9,000 underground petroleum storage tanks (USTs) and systems across Washington state, petroleum leaks and cleanup is a big issue for business owners, homeowners, and regulators. The traditional leaking UST cleanup process is typically counted in years and often stymied by the lack of available regulatory staff to handle the large volume of sites efficiently. To help remedy this, the state’s Pollution Liability Agency’s (PLIA’s) created new programs in 2018 to speed up the cleanup process and restore leaking UST sites to productive use. One of these new initiatives is the Revolving Loan and Grant Program that provides financial assistance to owners and operators of underground storage tanks (UST) to:
Remove, replace, or upgrade aging fuel systems to prevent leaks
Cleanup historical or ongoing contamination caused by a UST release; or
Install new and convert existing fuel systems to dispense alternative fuels, including electric vehicle charge stations
To complete these goals, PLIA hired a team of technical consultants to perform Preliminary Planning Assessments (PPAs) at UST sites throughout Washington state.
How we helped:
As a prime consultant for PLIA, Aspect is performing PPAs for petroleum-contaminated USTs sites statewide. The scope of the PPAs include reviewing existing data and reports to identify data gaps, completing remedial investigations to fill in data gaps with respect to contamination and exposure pathways, and recommending a cleanup strategy to help site owners achieve regulatory closure. The final PPA Report is intended to satisfy the Washington State regulatory requirements for remedial investigations and feasibility studies and select a preferred final remedy for each site based on input from multiple stakeholders.
With Aspect’s help, PLIA’s revolving loan and grant program is an effective and efficient government funding model to support owners and operators meet financial responsibility and environmental cleanup requirements for USTs.
The Oen Family’s Quilcene Site: A PLIA Success Story
Since 1928, Sandy and Linda Oen’s family have owned a service station and repair shop in Quilcene, WA. In 1997, they discovered a gasoline release at the site resulting from retail station operations and leaking USTs. Having been denied insurance coverage and any assistance from major oil companies, the Oen’s undertook the cleanup themselves.
Between 1997 and 2004, investigation and cleanup activities included decommissioning of four USTs, excavating over 90 tons of petroleum impacted soil, and bioremediation of residual soil impacts. In the course of investigation and cleanup activities, the business was closed in 2001.
In 2006, the Oen’s sought regulatory closure of the cleanup and entered the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Voluntary Cleanup Program. Ecology determined that further action was necessary to complete the site characterization and select a final remedy. In 2012, the Oen’s resumed work with their environmental consultant to perform a site assessment to determine whether soil impacts were remediated, but the mounting costs of the investigation and cleanup activities stalled further progress.
In 2017, PLIA’s loan and grant program has allowed the Oen’s to work with Aspect to complete the remedial investigation and the results indicated that soil and groundwater at the site were in compliance with Washington State’s cleanup levels. Based on these findings, the site recently received a no further action determination from PLIA, thereby restoring the value to the property and bringing the site to closure for the Oen’s.