The removal of an underground heating oil tank at the former Eagle Gas Station in Gardnerville revealed that it had been leaking.
The tank was one of three removed early last month, including an underground waste oil tank and an above ground kerosene tank.
While digging up the 1,050-gallon tank, workers found that holes had been corroded through the side, according to a report written by Gardnerville Town Manager Tom Dallaire.
On Tuesday night, Gardnerville board members authorized Dallaire to enter a contract with McGinley & Associates to clean up the spill.
Soil samples revealed that the soil under the tank exceeded Nevada Department of Environmental Protection levels for contamination.
“The excavation contractor hit groundwater at approximately 15 feet and the groundwater contained an oil sheen on its surface,” Dallaire wrote.
He said groundwater could have spread the contamination beyond the vicinity of the tank.
Work to remove the tanks was paid for from a $31,490 grant, but that won’t be enough to mitigate the oil spill.
Dallaire said the state and McGinley & Associates have worked with the town to document the spill. State officials have recommended that the spill be paid for from the Nevada Petroleum Fund. That would provide up to $250,000 for soil and groundwater sampling and to dig up contaminated soil.
Until the town took over the gas station last summer, it had not been enrolled in the petroleum fund.
Under their contract, McGinley will determine the extent of the spill. Until that assessment is complete, the town won’t know how bad the spill is or how much it would cost to clean it up, Dallaire said.
“The field guys do not think it is that large of a spill,” he said on Wednesday. “But McGinley needs to proceed with the work in accordance with the state regulations and they will be determining the extent of the spill and the amount of material needed to be excavated, which will in turn give us an idea on how much the spill will cost to clean up.”
Private owners allowed the station to be taken over by the county for back taxes after they couldn’t sell the property.
Dallaire said the first opportunity to submit a claim on the oil tanks would be March 13.
The heating oil tanks aren’t related to the main underground fuel tanks, which were found to be sound last year. Dallaire said that even though the tanks passed the tightness tests last year, there could still be releases. He said a release was identified in 2004 and a groundwater monitoring well was installed on the site.
Dallaire said that if contamination is found when the fuel tanks are removed, the petroleum fund would also aid the town in cleaning it up.
The town is in discussions with the Nevada Department of Transportation to take a slice off the front of the gas station in order to soften the curve. Longer trucks tend to drive up onto the sidewalk causing a hazard to pedestrians.
According to plans approved by the town, the former gas station will provide a site for a visitor’s center, as well as the town’s flood control infrastructure.