A defunct underground fuel tank on city-owned property is giving Oakwood an above-ground headache.
The city shut down the tank, which was used by city vehicles, after the public works department moved to another site about five years ago.
After testing the soil at the property off Railroad Street, the city learned from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division on Feb. 15 that “soil and/or groundwater contamination” was above acceptable limits.
The EPD then ordered the city to develop a “corrective action plan,” or a strategy of how to clean up the site.
Oakwood City Council took initial steps Monday night by hiring a Lawrenceville firm, Georgia Oilmen’s Services. The company will install and collect samples from three groundwater monitoring wells, then determine where the groundwater is flowing.
“This is a process we have to go through,” City Manager Stan Brown said. “We don’t have any choice in the matter.”
Officials believe the problem doesn’t stem from the tank, which was tested every year for leaks while it was operating, Brown said.
Rather, the issue may have been caused by leaks from workers filling tanks at the pump.
“Whenever you fill up, there’s still a little bit of fuel in the hose and it dribbles here and there,” Brown said. “It goes on the ground, and there you are.”
The tank itself probably dates back to at least the 1970s, he said.
Oakwood is paying Georgia Oilmen’s Services $12,675 for its services and may have to invest far more to get the problem fixed.
“Maybe you’ll get a clean bill of health,” Mayor Lamar Scroggs said.
Brown shook his head.
“I’m just giving you a forewarning,” he said. “Once you do this, you’ll end up with an approved corrective action plan (from EPD), then we’ll have to get pricing to do the actual cleanup.
“You could be in for several tens of thousands of dollars.”
City vehicles now fuel up at an above-ground storage tank with a spill protection device at the present public works site off W White Road.
The ordeal is a first for Oakwood, Brown said.
“If you’ve been in other communities, this is a very common thing,” he said. “It’s just part of the process, but it’s a costly part.”