The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Shell Oil Products US (Shell), an energy and petrochemical company, have agreed to extend the state’s first agreement to clean up contamination at multiple current and former gas station sites.
The project has led to the completion of cleanup actions at 30 sites over the past three years.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strongly supported the project. EPA has provided initial start-up funding grants to Ecology over the project’s first three years.
The extension – through June 2013 – adds 20 sites to the original agreement, signed in November 2008. This brings the total number to 107.
Shell has agreed to accelerate study and cleanup as needed at locations in King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office in Bellevue coordinates the cleanup process with Shell.
“This approach exceeded our expectations and plans,” said Jim Pendowski, who manages Ecology’s toxics cleanup program. “The company completed work on nearly twice as many sites as expected. Pooling efforts common to multiple sites brings results that benefit people and communities around each of them.”
Shell places the sites into Ecology’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). The VCP enables owners of contaminated sites to meet state cleanup standards independently and to receive technical guidance from Ecology during the process.
Participants in the VCP pay fees to Ecology to cover the department’s costs for guidance and review. VCP sites must meet the same cleanup standards as properties formally managed by Ecology under the state’s cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act, created by a 1988 voter initiative.
A map and list of site addresses and target cleanup dates are available on line at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites_brochure/vcp_sites/vcpOverview.htm.
“Shell is pleased to extend this precedent-setting agreement and continue working with Ecology’s Voluntary Cleanup Program,” said James Robinson, Western Region Environmental Manager for Shell. “We value the communities where we live and work and are committed to carrying out our business responsibly, sustainably, and in compliance with environmental standards.”
Across the industry, older gas stations used steel underground tanks and piping, which corroded over time. Gas stations today – and since 1989 – must meet standards that safeguard against corrosion and leaks, maintain leak-detection systems, and undergo regular inspections by Ecology.
The project with Shell and EPA is part of Ecology’s ongoing effort to reduce and prevent toxic threats to human health and the environment.
Jiffy Lube International, Inc. (JLI) also is a signatory to the agreement and has a small number of sites within the project. Shell manages those sites for JLI.