Former Mobil station remediation could pump sale

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BRATTLEBORO — Owners of a former Mobil gas station hope an additional cleanup of the property might help get it sold.

Tim Rice, president of Rice Oil Company Inc., said his group ran the gas station at 817 Putney Road for about 20 years before gas equipment was removed in 2008.

"Like a lot of old gas stations, there was contamination," said Rice, whose group purchased the property in 2011 after the previous owner had difficulties selling it. "There's a super fund in Vermont for underground storage tanks but because there were no sensitive receptors or harm to human health on site, they just had us monitor it for a long time. But in the interim, anyone who's interested in buying it didn't want to be stuck with a polluted piece of property, then build something on it and have the state come in and say, 'We gotta address it.'"

The state "finally" was convinced to clean up the property, Rice said, and now all the soil has been excavated and taken to a disposal facility. He said clean fill replaced the soil and he expects the groundwater quality will improve within the next three to six months.

The plan is to test the wells every month. Then "we will have a good site and we can market it to someone who can do something with the property," Rice said. "In its day, it was a good gas station site. It's not a good gas station site in today's market."

An estimated 3,275 tons of affected soil was to be removed and replaced with imported soil, according to an updated corrective plan issued in August by Manchester, N.H.-based GeoInsight Inc. After excavation estimated to reach depths of 18 feet, a chemical oxidant was to be applied to a trench system near China Buffet to help reduce off-site groundwater concentrations faster than excavation alone would have accomplished.

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"Residual petroleum soil impacts are contributing to groundwater concentrations that have exceeded Vermont Primary Groundwater Enforcement Standards in samples collected and analyzed from on-site monitoring wells and several wells located on the abutting property to the south," the plan says.

A local permit to demolish all structures on the property was issued in October 2006, Zoning Administrator Brian Bannon said. That meant gas pumps, a car wash and a canopy.

About 1,670 tons of affected soil was excavated from the property in 2010 in a project that "targeted the most grossly impacted soil and did not extend far enough under the water table as dewatering was not planned for and not supported by the approved remedial budget at the time," according to this year's plan from GeoInsight.

Tami Wuestenberg, environmental analyst for Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation's Waste Management and Prevention Division, said her group agreed to do a more comprehensive cleanup this year with financial help from the state's Petroleum Cleanup Fund.

"For this site, they had a $10,000 deductible at which point they are eligible for $1,240,000 in cleanup funds," she wrote in an email, adding that she believed the project cost was now somewhere in the $300,000 range. "The groundwater contamination at this site is relatively low and very similar to most other gas station sites across the state. We are hopeful that this remedial effort will clean up the last of the petroleum contamination therefore making the site eligible for closure."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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