U.S. Water News Online
DES MOINES, Iowa -- There are still 1,854 underground fuel
storage tank sites in Iowa that state environmental officials
consider to be a danger to the soil and groundwater.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources began its push to remove
the leaky underground fuel storage tanks in 1988, and now, 15 years
later, officials say progress has been made. But they also warn that
more work needs to be done.
``When all this began in 1988, we were looking at a universe of
more than 20,000 tanks statewide,'' said Jim Humeston, supervisor of
the DNR's Underground Storage Tank Section. ``Now we're down to
But the state still classifies 1,854 of those as being a risk,
including 1,249 that are categorized as ``high-risk'' sites that are
``These are sites with tanks that did have a leak or a suspected
leak,'' Humeston said. ``It doesn't mean they are still leaking. If
we identified a leak, the tank has been repaired or replaced. At some
of the sites classified as high- or low-risk, the tanks may have been
Humeston said the state adopted a risk-based method for ordering
corrective action in 1995.
``We determine the risk the site poses to public health and to the
environment ,'' he said.
He said soil and groundwater samples are collected at the sites
and a model is made of how far the contamination extends.
If no risk is found, no cleanup is required. Low-risk sites are
monitored annually. Owners of high-risk sites have to correct the
problem, Humeston said.
New storage tanks are required to have leak detection systems and
owners are required by state law to report leaks or spills. All
underground fuel storage tanks with a capacity of more than 110
gallons must be licensed annually by the state.
The DNR has only six inspectors who keep an eye on underground
storage tanks in Iowa.
They do periodic inspections and get to each site only once every
three or four years, Humeston said.
If a leak occurs, it could take up to eight years and several
hundred thousand dollars to clean it up, he said.
Since October 1990, the state has been collecting a penny-a-gallon
tax on gasoline and diesel fuel to help pay for the costs of cleanup
not covered by insurance.
the U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.