Gas station site in Mills decontaminated
Heavy machinery, expensive equipment and workers in hard hats on East Centennial 84 has people in town wondering just what is going on at the old Jyrkas gas station site. With the large, odd looking tanks the scene looks like a pretty complex ope...
Heavy machinery, expensive equipment and workers in hard hats on East Centennial 84 has people in town wondering just what is going on at the old Jyrkas gas station site. With the large, odd looking tanks the scene looks like a pretty complex operation.
"The theory is simple, but the process is complicated. Basically it's just a clean-up," said Al Holtberg, New York Mills Public Works Director.
Soil containing old gasoline and oil is an underground problem on the land and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency decided the site must be cleaned up and the soil decontaminated.
Up until about 15-20 years ago an old Texaco station owned by Melvin Jyrkas sat atop the ground on the east side of Mills. The station has been gone since the late 1980s and due to unpaid back taxes, the state now owns the land and is responsible for the cleanup. Taxpayers pay the bill and it's not cheap.
This petroleum remediation project in NY York Mills will cost approximately $320,000 in contracting and engineering fees. The state will pay for the project out of the Minnesota Petro Fund, which comes from a tax on gasoline. The City of New York Mills does not have to cover any of the costs.
Land sites with possible petroleum contamination must be checked on a regular basis for product levels of oil or gasoline in the earth. The MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) studies the soil and monitors the underground well to check if water or any products are moving. Because concentration of gasoline is impacting the neighboring house and creating odors, the state has decided to remove the old soil saturated with petroleum and replace it with new.
The MPCA set up the petroleum remediation site where the old Texaco station stood 20 years ago to rid the soil of old gasoline. The Petroleum Contamination Project's objective is to ensure clean drinking water and air supply along with safety from explosive vapors. Risks from petroleum contamination are affected by ground water that is harmful to human health, dangerous conditions due to petroleum vapors, and affected surface water quality.
In order to replace the soil, the water in the ground must first be drained and filtered. A de-watering pipe pumps the underground water into large tanks. Filtering is done with oil/water separators called Weir tanks which are capable of pumping 1,000-1,500 gallons of water per minute through the system. Collecting in the large tanks, the water circulates through two filters with the petroleum floating to the top. First, water flows through a sand filter to remove bacteria and other small particles. From there the water goes through a carbon filter, making the water contaminate free. When the process is complete to regulation standards, the water is discharged into the near-by ditches.
The soil removed from the site is hauled to a certified disposal site near Ogema, north of Detroit Lakes. Not all soil is being removed. Only black dirt caused by petroleum saturation will be hauled away. Enough new soil to fill the hole will be hauled in from a pit north of Hwy 10 in NY Mills by Rollie Sales and Service out of Osakis, a company specializing in work with hydrocarbons and petroleum based products.
Excavation is expected to be done by July 22 depending on weather or other delaying factors. Once the project is complete the state plans to give the land back to the county, allowing the site to be sold.