Thousands of underground fuel tanks at risk of leaking - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

CBS 5 INVESTIGATES

Thousands of underground fuel tanks at risk of leaking

More than half of the underground fuel storage tanks in Arizona are either reaching or have passed their 30-year life expectancy. (Source: YouTube) More than half of the underground fuel storage tanks in Arizona are either reaching or have passed their 30-year life expectancy. (Source: YouTube)
Steve Brittle, president of Don't Waste Arizona, said the aging tanks pose a real threat of groundwater contamination, as well as neighborhood pollution across the state. (Source: CBS 5 News) Steve Brittle, president of Don't Waste Arizona, said the aging tanks pose a real threat of groundwater contamination, as well as neighborhood pollution across the state. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Laura Malone said the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is taking steps to reach out to gas stations with older fuel tanks and educate the owners about the need to monitor the tanks for leaks. (Source: CBS 5 News) Laura Malone said the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is taking steps to reach out to gas stations with older fuel tanks and educate the owners about the need to monitor the tanks for leaks. (Source: CBS 5 News)
The state Legislature passed a bill this year that sets up a study group, meant to come up with some solutions to the impending problem of old, leaking storage tanks. (Source: CBS 5 News) The state Legislature passed a bill this year that sets up a study group, meant to come up with some solutions to the impending problem of old, leaking storage tanks. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A recent state audit highlights a problem that's taken decades to materialize. More than half of the underground fuel storage tanks in Arizona are either reaching or have passed their 30-year life expectancy.

The audit, performed by the Arizona Auditor General's Office, concludes that 901 underground fuel storage tanks are older than 30 years and another 2,935 are between 20 and 30 years old.

The result, according to environmentalists, state auditors and regulators, is that those tanks are at risk of leaking gasoline, diesel fuel and other chemicals into the surrounding soil and groundwater.

"We are aware of this situation. We are taking it very seriously," said Laura Malone, who directs the waste programs division of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Malone said her agency is taking steps to reach out to gas stations with older fuel tanks and educate the owners about the need to monitor the tanks for leaks. But the agency does not have the statutory authority to require the businesses to switch out the tanks when they reach their intended life spans.

"That is an authority ADEQ would like to have, for common sense reasons," Malone said.

But the state audit stated that ADEQ had not been enforcing a requirement that businesses with underground fuel storage tanks show a financial ability to deal with spills and leaks.

"The state's doing a terrible job," said Steve Brittle, the president of Don't Waste Arizona, an environmental group.

Brittle said the aging tanks pose a real threat of groundwater contamination, as well as neighborhood pollution across the state.

In 2010, a tank at a Tempe gas station leaked 10,000 gallons of fuel into the surrounding soil. Efforts to remediate the environmental damage could cost $1.5 million, according the auditor's office.

So far, the state has spent more than $330 million dealing with the problem. But Brittle and other critics argue that if the state forced the businesses to carry the proper insurance policies, the insurance companies would take care of much of the problem by requiring gas stations to install newer tanks and adequately monitor the tanks for leaks.

"It's just the cost of doing business, and if you can't afford to do that, you should find something else to do," Brittle said.

Meanwhile, the state Legislature passed a bill this year that sets up a study group, meant to come up with some solutions to the impending problem of old, leaking storage tanks. The group's findings are set to be released in December.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Inside WFLX.comMore>>

  • SIDEBAR: 5 Investigates

    5i Poll: Vote on top stories of 2012 5i Slideshows Hiding Toxic Secrets 24 Hours on the Border 5 Investigates Archives 5i Links Scam AlertMore >>
    5i Slideshows Hiding Toxic Secrets 24 Hours on the Border 5 Investigates Archives 5i Links Scam AlertMore >>
  • CBS 5 InvestigatesMore>>

  • Russian hackers targeting kids' Instagram accounts

    Russian hackers targeting kids' Instagram accounts

    Thursday, April 13 2017 10:54 PM EDT2017-04-14 02:54:42 GMT
    Friday, April 14 2017 6:19 PM EDT2017-04-14 22:19:25 GMT
    A Valley woman says her daughter's Instagram account was hacked by Russian crooks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)A Valley woman says her daughter's Instagram account was hacked by Russian crooks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    It's been 10 days since Russian hackers hijacked a Valley woman's Instagram account, which she set up for her daughter to post dancing pictures. And she still cannot regain access to the account, or get Instagram to shut it down.

    More >>

    It's been 10 days since Russian hackers hijacked a Valley woman's Instagram account, which she set up for her daughter to post dancing pictures. And she still cannot regain access to the account, or get Instagram to shut it down.

    More >>
  • Top high school players choosing controversial basketball 'prep' schools

    Top high school players choosing controversial basketball 'prep' schools

    Thursday, April 6 2017 4:27 PM EDT2017-04-06 20:27:24 GMT
    Thursday, April 6 2017 4:27 PM EDT2017-04-06 20:27:24 GMT
    'Prep schools' that are tailored toward basketball players are growing in popularity. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)'Prep schools' that are tailored toward basketball players are growing in popularity. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    Inside a north Phoenix gymnasium last month, some of the top high school basketball players in the country gathered for the "Grind Session World Championship Tournament." But the high schools these students play for are likely to be a far cry from the high school you attended. These are "prep schools," basketball prep schools to be precise.

    More >>

    Inside a north Phoenix gymnasium last month, some of the top high school basketball players in the country gathered for the "Grind Session World Championship Tournament." But the high schools these students play for are likely to be a far cry from the high school you attended. These are "prep schools," basketball prep schools to be precise.

    More >>
  • Scottsdale police warn party-goers about 'Gypsy Carts'

    Scottsdale police warn party-goers about 'Gypsy Carts'

    Saturday, April 1 2017 4:55 PM EDT2017-04-01 20:55:36 GMT
    Sunday, April 2 2017 1:37 AM EDT2017-04-02 05:37:39 GMT

    Scottsdale has the highest concentration of "golf cart" taxis of any city in the country. And police are warning that some of them may not be licensed or have insurance.

    More >>

    Scottsdale has the highest concentration of "golf cart" taxis of any city in the country. And police are warning that some of them may not be licensed or have insurance.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly

1100 Banyan Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 Raycom Media. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.