By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – The city will spend $49,000 to replace an approximately 30-year-old underground 8,000-gallon fuel tank used to power a backup generator.
A new above-ground, 5,000-gallon diesel fuel tank soon will be installed for the generator, which functions as an auxiliary power source to keep the pumps in the city’s south end retention basin running in the event of a primary power outage.
The replacement plan comes quickly after officials’ recent notification by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that there was no follow-up by the city to the department’s April 2006 finding that the tank did not meet the required standards for cathodic protection from rust.
Rick Lang, city engineer and director of public service, was named to his position in May 2006 and said he previously was not made aware of the test failure.
“During a transition time, a lot of things fall through the cracks,” he said. “I’m not going to point fingers at anyone.”
Shortly after learning of the letter from the DEQ, the City Council last week authorized spending the $49,000 to see whether cathodic protection was in place or whether future cleanup was needed. For his part, Lang doesn’t believe the current tank poses any danger to residents.
“As far as we can tell, this tank may have been in the ground 25 to 30 years,” he said. “At this time I have no indication that the tank is leaking.”
Lang said this week, however, that the tank’s age was a factor in his recommendation for replacement over additional testing and repair.
“With the age of the tank,” he said, “it would be mostly beneficial to replace it with an above-ground tank and also eliminate the possibility of contamination down the road and a substantial cleanup if the tank were to leak.”
“If it failed in the (2006) test, my position is I didn’t want to waste anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 to go through the testing to bring the tank up to standards to try to get it to pass with the potential of it failing.”
H. Domine Enterprises of Brownstown Township was awarded the contract to supply and install the new tank, remove the old one and provide needed documentation to the state. An environmental assessment of the tank excavation will be done by Dzuirman and Associates P.C.
Domine’s bid also stipulates that it will oversee the final electrical and DEQ inspections, as well as the system startup. Officials hope to see the work completed by April 1.
Lang said the backup generator can run for four and a half days on 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and for three days on 5,000 gallons.
The generator is tested every week or every other week, he said, according to his department’s work schedule.
“It is very important that we have these tanks for the backup generator,” Lang said. “A good portion of the south end section of the city is supported by those pumps over there.
“Should we lose power, that generator is extremely necessary, and the fuel to operate that generator is extremely necessary.”