Utilities say cleanup plan for station not enough | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Utilities say cleanup plan for station not enough

Michael Schneider

A plan for the containment of a gas leak submitted by consultants working for Tahoe Tom’s gas is not sufficient, according to representatives of two South Shore utilities.

Consultants will submit a new plan, probably by Aug. 5.

The groundwater below Tahoe Tom’s has been found to have MTBE levels of 1.2 million parts per billion. The acceptable levels of MTBE in water are 35 parts per billion.

According to Lisa Dernbach, of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, there is a stream of gasoline floating on top of the groundwater below Tahoe Tom’s.

Although the wells showed no sign of contamination, South Tahoe Public Utility District shut down two wells on Blackrock Avenue this week. Dawn Forsythe, spokesperson for STPUD, said the wells were turned off as a precautionary measure.

If left on, wells draw groundwater from the water table to the well. By turning them off, Forsythe said the wells won’t draw any contaminated water toward them.

STPUD hydrologist Ivo Bergsolm said he was unable to estimate how long it would take to contain the contamination. He said more studies needed to be made to give a more accurate picture of what is going on below Tahoe Tom’s.

Forsythe said she estimated the site would take at least six years to clean, if done correctly.

Dernbach said Lahontan is using the clean up at the Ski Run Chevron as a gauge for how long it will take to contain a contaminated site, however, the Chevron site had only 20,000 to 30,000 MTBE parts per billion at its most contaminated, significantly less MTBE than Tahoe Tom’s now has. The Chevron property now has about 700 parts per billion, according to Dernbach, and cleanup began about seven years ago.

Dernbach said the cleanup and containment at Tahoe Tom’s should not affect redevelopment projects planned in the area. A 530-unit hotel is scheduled to be built on the Tahoe Tom’s site in 2001. Dernbach said cleanup facilities can be placed around the construction and eventually, the hotel.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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