EPA launches tank excavation at abandoned sites

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Molly Kobren

A crane lifts out a 10,000 gallon underground storage tank at a abandoned gas station in Compton. US EPA will remove tanks from 29 sites near the the 710 Freeway.

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Molly Kobren

Crews finish removing underground storage tanks at an abandoned gas station in Compton

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Molly Kobren/KPCC

Works crews begin excavating underground storage tanks at an abandoned gas station in Compton


Work crews hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began digging out underground storage tanks Thursday from a long-abandoned gasoline station in Compton. It’s part of a $1.3 million project to remove old tanks from 29 locations along the 710 Freeway.

Crews will unearth three 10,000 gallon tanks from the site on East Rosecrans Avenue. Jeff Scott, director of the EPA’s waste management division, said the cleanup work might require soil excavation and removal.

“These are old steel tanks for holding gasoline and the older technology from the 70s and 80s was more prone to leak over time,” said Scott.

“It’s very likely that the tanks that we’re cleaning up today have contaminated some of the soil around it and we’ll be looking into that and removing some of that soil.”

The EPA and the California Water Resources Control Board launched the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Cleanup Partnership at the end of 2010 in cities along the 710 Freeway. Most of the cleanup sites have been closed down for years. The Compton station, formerly Kim's ARCO, was abandoned after it burned during the L.A. riots.

“It really makes a difference in individual communities,” said Scott.

“We can take a site like this that’s just sitting there as a blighted sight, attracting crime and litter and everything else, and clean it up and make it so that it can be redeveloped into a small business and create some jobs or at least have a use to the community.”

Double-wall fiberglass tanks will replace the old single-wall steel tanks. They’ll be equipped with computerized detection systems that send out alerts if the tanks develop leaks.

The EPA will pay the cost of cleanup with $1 million from Leaking Underground Storage Tank trust funds and $300,000 of Brownfields Assessment funds.

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