Oil company in Clinton on cleanup list

"A Clinton diesel fuel retailer will not be required to hire a cleanup crew anytime soon after being identified this month by the state as owning a small-scale hazardous waste site.A soil sample taken by the Island County Health Department late last year showed that at least a portion of the ground under the Whidbey Oil facility in Clinton contains 80 times more diesel fuel than is allowed by the Washington Department of Ecology. The fuel seller located along Highway 525 has been doing business from its Clinton site for 23 years. In January, the business owner, Glen Davis, had Whidbey Oil's underground fuel storage tanks removed in an effort to reduce the contamination risk to local soils. None of the tanks were found to be leaking, leading Davis, Island County, and Ecology to believe that the contamination is the result of years of small fuel spills.They pulled the samples from where we park the (diesel tanker) truck, Davis said Monday.Whidbey Oil received the lowest priority ranking on a list of 25 state-recommended cleanup sites released March 7. Caitlin Cormier, an Ecology public information officer, said Monday that her agency and Island County began assessing the contamination risk at Whidbey Oil last August.Although tests showed diesel levels in the soil at 16,500 milliliters per kilogram of soil -- well above the state-mandated limit of 200 milliliters per kilogram -- Cormier said the fuel poses no immediate threat to groundwater or human health. Still, the site does need attention.This definitely does need some cleanup, Cormier said.Carl Anderson, an environmental health specialist with Island County, said due to Ecology's limited cleanup dollars, it could be years before it requires Whidbey Oil to remove the contaminated soil. With small spills such as this one, he said Ecology generally forces the property owner to pay for the cleanup.Anderson said the Whidbey Oil site was on another Ecology list starting in 1992, a list of suspected hazardous waste sites. It is not uncommon, according to Ecology's Cormier, for old gas stations and other fuel-related businesses to make either Ecology's suspect and/or cleanup lists. Anderson said a number of Whidbey Island gas stations and Navy properties are or have been listed by Ecology as potential or actual cleanup sites over the past decade.Whidbey Oil might get a break of sorts sometime during the next year as the state legislature debates whether to raise the toxicity ceiling for diesel fuel from 200 milliliters per kilogram to 2,000. If it does, Whidbey Oil's soil will be thought of as having a much lower relative level of toxicity.Glen Davis said he has not received a cleanup order from either Ecology or Island County. He will continue to operate his business from the Clinton site, but will no longer have storage tanks on site."

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