Underground storage tank diagram courtesy of State Water Resources Control Board.
A joint effort between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) has successfully cleaned up 381 abandoned underground petroleum tanks across the state, including five locations in Long Beach, officials announced Thursday.
The cleanup project, which began in 2013 and targeted 157 properties with abandoned and potentially leaky underground tanks, has prevented groundwater contamination.
Thirty percent of Californians rely on groundwater for their drinking water, and as many as 60 percent rely on it during a drought.
“Our initiative has protected groundwater and revitalized properties across California,” Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said in a statement. “And there’s still work to be done — EPA and the State Water Board will work with local agencies on 119 more sites where abandoned tanks remain a risk.”
For decades, these tanks went unused or underutilised, which lowered property value and caused blight.
In Long Beach, the following locations had tanks removed:
- Ahern Rentals, 2635 East South Street (February 1, 2014)
- B-Z Disposal Service Inc., 6254 Paramount Boulevard (October 1, 2014)
The following locations had tanks brought back into compliance and are now in use:
- Kia’s Arco, 3201 East 7th Street (October 2, 2014)
- North Long Beach Fuel, 6954 Atlantic Avenue (February 2, 2014)
- Rocket Oil Company, 1701 West Anaheim Street (April 3, 2015)
The EPA and State Water Board worked with property owners to inspect the sites. If owners were unable or unwilling to participate, EPA and the State worked in collaboration with local agencies to remove the tanks.
Depending on the conditions at the site, it can cost between $10,000 and $1.5 million to clean an underground tank.
In total, the cleanup program resulted in:
193 abandoned tanks removed from 83 sites
19 abandoned tanks cleaned and filled at eight sites
124 abandoned tanks tested for leaks and returned to service at 51 sites
16,500 gallons of petroleum removed from 45 abandoned tanks at another 15 sites
Seventy-eight of the 157 sites were located in Southern California, 55 were located in Central California and 24 in Northern California.
For more information on underground tanks, visit the EPA’s website.