Gas station leak could slow development progress |

Gas station leak could slow development progress

Michael Schneider

Tahoe Tom’s is one serious environmental problem, according to the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Lisa Dernbach, associate engineering geologist with Lahontan, said Tahoe Tom’s groundwater and soil samples revealed MTBE levels of 1,230,000 parts per billion. The acceptable level of MTBE contamination in California is 35 ppbs.

There are six wells between the station and Lake Tahoe, where contaminated groundwater from the site eventually flows, prompting haste in cleanup of the contamination.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Jim Jordan of Balloffet & Associates, the organization which compiled the environment impact report for the planned Redevelopment Project 3, said the problems with Tahoe Tom’s could push back the time table on the project.

Project 3, which would revamp the state line area north of U.S. Highway 50, is scheduled to break ground in 2000. The portion of the project which would be built on the Tahoe Tom’s site, Project C, is scheduled to begin construction in 2001.

Dernbach said the gas leak at Tahoe Tom’s wouldn’t likely affect the project as the station has only until September 1998 to stop the leak, almost three years before the redevelopment of the Tahoe Tom’s site is to commence. She said Tahoe Tom’s management and owners are complying with all Lahontan requirements.

The site can still be contaminated as long as it isn’t threatening anything else, such as drinking water, as was the case with the Embassy Suites Hotel in the state line area. It was built on the site of a former Chevron station which contaminated the ground below.

Tests this month on the well water of all six wells in the water flow path from Tahoe Tom’s proved no contamination as of yet.

Dernbach said Lahontan is certain there is a leak in an underground tank at Tahoe Tom’s because there are fluids lighter than water on top of the groundwater. Gasoline is lighter than water and is the only such fluid which contains MTBE.

As far as the effects on Project 3, Dernbach said the developers may have to build around cleanup facilities which may be in place at the contaminated site for some time.

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