DEM TAKES ACTIONS TO ADDRESS CONTAMINATED PUBLIC DRINKING WATER WELLS IN PASCOAG

The Department of Environmental Management issued two immediate compliance orders to address situations found while testing for the gasoline additive MTBE at sites in Pascoag.

 

One orders Main Street Mobil at 24 North Main Street in Pascoag to investigate and remediate leaking petroleum from underground storage tanks at the station. The other orders the Town of Burrillville to evaluate the effectiveness of an ongoing remediation of a leaking underground storage tank site at its public works garage at 65 Union Avenue and take action to correct any deficiencies. Although both sites are near the Pascoag Utility District public drinking water wells that are contaminated with MTBE, it is not known if the contamination stems from the gasoline leaks at either or both sites.

 

Seven inches of gasoline, with high concentrations of MTBE, were discovered last Thursday in a recently installed groundwater monitoring well located approximately 20 feet from Main Street Mobil’s underground storage tanks. The company has five tanks registered with DEM, three of which store gasoline. Each has a capacity of 6,000 gallons.

 

Under the compliance order, Robert L. Laverdiere and Mary Ellen Laverdiere, owners of Pascoag Main Street Service, and Potter Oil, Inc., which operates the station, must immediately assume full responsibility for all on-site and off-site investigation and remedial activities relating to the facility’s underground storage tanks; within 24 hours engage a qualified environmental consultant or contractor to oversee the work; with 72 hours perform leak detection “precision” testing on the facility’s three underground storage tank systems and immediately empty any questionable tanks; and investigate the extend of subsurface contamination and remediate the site.

 

The Town of Burrillville has been involved in investigation and cleanup activities at its public works garage since gasoline was discovered when underground tanks were removed several years ago. Under today’s compliance order, the town must engage the services of an environmental consultant/contractor within 24 hours to evaluate the performance of its existing remedial systems and conduct further subsurface investigations to determine whether any petroleum contamination has moved off-site or otherwise escaped the existing remedial efforts. Although MTBE has been present in groundwater from shallow monitoring wells at the public works facility, no information is currently available regarding the water quality of the bedrock aquifer at and down-gradient of it. Therefore, the compliance order specifies that the town’s investigation must include a study of the bedrock aquifer at those places. The town must submit a general scope of work and a time schedule to DEM within 72 hours, and must implement the work within 48 hours of DEM’s approval of the submitted plan.

 

Both compliance orders are enforceable in Superior Court. In each of the two compliance orders, three specific violations of law were cited. Failure to comply can result in civil and/or criminal penalties up to $25,000 per violation per day.

 

The Departmental of Environmental Management also issued an emergency approval for the Harrisville Fire District to construct a new well supply near Eccelston Field in Burrillville. The district had sought the approval to possibly assist the Pascoag Utility District, which is coping with an MTBE contamination problem at its two well sites. Prior to the emergency, The Harrisville Fire District had filed an application with DEM to develop the Eccelston Field site to meet its own district’s needs.

 

The emergency approval enables Harrisville to move forward immediately with the construction and operation of the new well field if it chooses to do so. The approval and an associated letter from DEM set forth several conditions that Harrisville will need to meet in order to obtain final authorization to operate the well field on a permanent basis. A key condition is that Harrisville must monitor the impacts of the new well field on stream flow in the Clear River and associated wetlands. If such impacts are found to occur, Harrisville Fire District may be required to limit withdrawals during periods of low flow.

 

In reaching its decision on the emergency approval for the new well field, DEM consulted closely with the RI Department of Health and the RI Water Resources Board.

 

In other news in the Pascoag Water Department, customers are reminded that effective Tuesday, September 18, 2001, a MANDATORY outside water ban is in effect. The water ban, which will be strictly enforced, prohibits any outside watering (lawns, gardens, etc.), washing cars, and any other outside use of water.

 

Bottled water is still available at the District office during normal business hours for those customers who were not able to pick up their free case last Saturday. The District expected a delivery of 1,300 cases of water from Stop and Shop this week. However, the events of September 11, 2001, have detoured that water to New York City. We’re sure all our customers join us in extending our heartfelt sympathy to all victims of the tragedy. Stop and Shop assures the District, that it will honor its commitment to deliver bottled to our customers next week. We will keep our customers updated as soon as we know the delivery date.

 

Senator Chafee’s visit to Pascoag, scheduled for Monday, September 17, 2001, has postponed. His office will re-schedule the Senator’s visit within the next several weeks.

 

Pascoag Water Department expects that by late next week, an interconnection with the Harrisville Fire District’s Water Department will be complete. That interconnection will allow 100,000 gallons of water from Harrisville to flow into Pascoag’s distribution system. The effect of this infusion of water will be two-fold. First, it will hopefully, lower the levels of MTBE in Pascoag’s water. Secondly, it will allow Pascoag to draw less water from its surrounding wellfields, thus lowering the possibility of Pascoag pulling in more MTBE