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Corps of Engineers project pulls out World War II fuel storage tanks

Published Oct. 1, 2012
MONACA, Pa. (Oct. 1, 2012) -- Early in World War II, the U.S. government acquired a 305 acre area in Monaca, Pa., on the banks of Raccoon Creek northwest of Pittsburgh. The purpose was strategic and secret -- build six petroleum, oil and lubricant storage tanks to store almost 10 million gallons of fuel as the East Coast reserve for defense fuel.

Now, under the Formerly Used Defense Site, or FUDS, program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Baltimore District is removing five of the six welded steel underground storage tanks that could store 1.74 million gallons of fuel each. Since 2006, the $10 million project has removed the tanks and associated fuel lines and is now filling in the holes to leave the land available for reuse by Potter Township, which owns the area and the sixth tank.

"Bottom line is it's been a successful team effort with many involved stakeholders (public and private)," explained Brent Graybill, program manager, Engineering Division. "By teaming together, we have shown the local taxpayer that we've heard their concerns/opinions, have directly involved them in the decision-making process, and have put their tax dollars to good use in ultimately returning the property to its pre-Department of Defense-use condition."

Following a request from Potter Township Supervisor Rebecca Matsco, Graybill briefed approximately 60 citizens and several news media representatives on the progress on the project and upcoming actions, Aug. 22. Township officials promoted the briefing during their recent Centennial celebration.

In her comments, Matsco highlighted cooperation with other government agencies as well as seeking citizen comments on the future parkland development for the property. Graybill emphasized that the Corps expects to complete the tank removal, and land remediation, by the end of 2012.

Each underground storage tank is 100' across and 30' high. Each tank has an estimated 350 tons of steel that will be removed and recycled with the estimated $1 million used to reduce total project cost.

Research noted that the tanks were probably de-fueled sometime in the 1960s-1970s time period with several companies (no longer in existence) claiming ownership. Also, the Corps found little contamination in or around the tanks. In addition, groundwater wells and soil sampling has shown no contamination migrating away from the tanks.

The Corps investigation noted that some groundwater had intruded into the tanks. As a result, the project team is pumping out that groundwater and putting it through an onsite carbon treatment process. This is no small task -- one inch of water equates to about 9,000 gallons of water that requires treatment. After treatment, the water is discharged to the surface into two 10'x20' recharge beds constructed to allow the water to enter the ground without runoff. As part of the project, the Corps obtained a temporary discharge permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, or PADEP.

As with all FUDS projects, the District has key stakeholders. The project partners include PADEP, Beaver County and Potter Township.