The Times West Virginian

Local News

June 16, 2014

Pennzoil remediation proposal approved

For site of the old Shell Downs Station

FAIRMONT — A cleanup method has been authorized for the site of the old Shell Downs Station in Rachel.

According to a June 13 press release, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection granted approval for a remediation proposal made by Pennzoil Quaker State, which is doing business as SOPUS products and owns the the 8.7-acre property on Sunshine Road.

Eight above-ground storage tanks and crude oil pumping facilities were once stationed on the piece of land. Under the cleanup method, the site will not be developed and will remain an open or green space in the future.

Pasupathy Ramanan, project manager for DEP, explained that this property in Marion County was formerly used to collect oil, push it through pipelines, and transport it to companies. The tanks have been removed from the land, which is now vacant.

An environmental assessment was done of the site to see how much contamination was left, he said. Soil and water samples were collected in order to perform a risk evaluation of the property and determine whether it can be utilized.

The assessment reports, which are available to the public, show that some petroleum contaminants were discovered below ground. A building could potentially be constructed there without a basement and with some vapor barriers, so that no vapor can come below the soil and into the building, Ramanan said.

He explained that Pennzoil, however, wants to be conservative and currently doesn’t want to sell the property or have any sort of structure built there.

The approved cleanup method actually doesn’t involve any real cleanup work. It establishes land use restrictions and specifies that the groundwater can’t be used because of the contaminants. The groundwater can only be extracted for the purposes of monitoring and remediation, and construction will be prohibited there, Ramanan said.

The conditions of the site are OK based on these restrictions, he said. Even if someone digs on the property, there is not a risk according to the evaluation that was done.

Ramanan added that there are other options if Pennzoil later decides it wants to reuse the site, or if another entity wants to purchase the land and says the risk is acceptable. In these cases, Pennzoil can always re-evaluate and reapply to the DEP for those uses.

He said Pennzoil Quaker State is now working with the DEP on the final draft of the land use covenant, which will be attached to the property and will describe the evaluation and risks. The land use covenant is under review, and upon approval, it will be recorded in the county clerk’s office.

Once the covenant is filed, Pennzoil will send a report to the DEP every year showing that the conditions still exist at the site. The company must also report to DEP if it sells the property, Ramanan said.

On April, 30, 2008, Pennzoil Quaker State made a Voluntary Remediation Agreement (VRA) with the DEP for the site.

The recent press release states, “The Act encourages voluntary cleanups of contaminated sites, as well as redevelopment of abandoned and under-utilized properties, with an objective of counteracting the lack of development on sites with contamination or perceived contamination.

“The Voluntary Remediation Program identifies and addresses potential contamination at a given site; sets applicable remediation standards; and ensures that the standards are maintained at the site. By providing financial incentives to invest in brownfields, this approach protects communities and the environment while still promoting economic development in West Virginia.”

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.

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