Suit cites 1 of many gas leaks Underground tanks pollute water system

September 21, 1992|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

A Severna Park Shell station, named in a lawsuit for polluting the well water of a family that lived nearby, is but one of 119 sites that have been found in the county with leaking or inadequate underground storage tanks.

Two years ago, only 55 tank sites in Anne Arundel had been found with problems. Statewide, the numbers also are increasing.

Michael Sullivan of the Maryland Department of the Environment said 800 tank sites throughout the state are being cleaned up, compared with about 400 such sites two years ago in 1990.

Though the state has tried to identify all underground storage tanks, he said problem tanks continue to be discovered.

Old steel tanks corrode and leak, contaminating the soil with gasoline, which contains chemicals believed by experts to cause cancer.

Mr. Sullivan said problems at the Severna Park Shell station in the 500 block of Ritchie Highway were noted eight years ago and clean-up efforts have been under way for several years.

Gregory Braun Sr., his wife, Lillian, and their four children allege in a suit which was filed in Circuit Court this month that leaking tanks at the station polluted the well water at their home at 38 Robinson Landing Road. The suit says Mr. and Mrs. Braun lost time from work and they and their children had to seek hospital treatment for injuries suffered by drinking and bathing in the water.

The family since has moved.

Mr. Sullivan said that although cleanup is under way at the Shell station, such work takes years. Ground water must be pumped, filtered and returned to the ground.

Sites with underground storage tanks have until 1998 to comply with Environmental Protection Agency standards for leak detection, corrosive protection and spill/overfill prevention. Underground storage tank owners have until the end of 1993 to implement leak detection plans.

Tank owners are responsible for bearing the costs of cleanup, which can exceed $100,000 depending on the site. The state currently is developing a low-interest loan program to help small businesses clean their sites, Mr. Sullivan said.

Under the EPA guidelines tank owners may replace the corroding steel tanks with plastic or they may coat the existing tanks in plastic.

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