The Journal Record

Deanna Atkinson’s employees are drilling holes and looking for petroleum, but she doesn’t want to sell oil. The president of Oklahoma Environmental Services and her staff are looking for leaking gasoline tanks. She is one of two contractors tasked with determining if closed fueling stations are seeping petroleum products into the ground.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission received $150,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess hundreds of shuttered gasoline stations across the state.

If contractors find pollution, however, it will take more money, time and work to remediate the contamination.

In the 1980s, the EPA strengthened regulations on petroleum storage tanks, requiring leak detection and prevention equipment. Many small business owners didn’t have the money to make the changes, and subsequently closed their businesses. Yet the rules didn’t require them to remove the noncompliant tanks.

The federal program is designed to help identify sites where gasoline or diesel flowed into soil or groundwater. The OCC determined that 1,745 tanks in the Sooner State needed upgrades, but only 1,319 made leak detection and prevention changes. Those out-of-service tanks can stay in the ground as long as monitoring equipment is maintained, said Robyn Strickland, agency Petroleum Storage Tank Division director.

However, 426 tanks were never upgraded or removed, she said. Letters to their operators went unanswered or were returned, so she prioritized sites that didn’t have a responsible party.

“We’re here to protect the environment,” Strickland said. “If we can’t contact the owners, at least we can identify those (sites) with contamination.”

The most recent round of funding covered the cost to assess 37 orphaned sites. A typical site has an average of three tanks, but Strickland didn’t have figures on how many tanks will be addressed with the $150,000 grant. The analysis and assessments must be completed by Sept. 30.

Atkinson won a contract to address 23 sites across the state. Her employees typically drill three 20-foot holes, taking soil and water samples. A laboratory will analyze the results to determine if gasoline or diesel leaked. One soil core appeared to have petroleum, but she hasn’t yet received confirmation.

“In an ideal world, you remove a tank when you quit using it,” Atkinson said. “That is when you do the site assessment to determine if there was a release of the product.”

Removing the pollution is another challenge. If tanks have been leaking for decades, there could be a growing plume of gasoline or diesel underground. The longer the sites are neglected, the harder and more expensive it is to get rid of the contamination, Atkinson said.

Contaminated orphan sites are eligible for federal money from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund. Strickland said she couldn’t estimate how long it would take to remove all the old tanks because remediation efforts depend on federal money.

“It is all contingent on funding and being able to locate someone who is responsible,” Strickland said. “That is the hardest part, is to find someone.”

Also check out the articale about us in the Enid News!

Oklahoma Environmental Services conducts site assessments in an attempt to find contamination

OKC, OK July 08, 2015 - Oklahoma Environmental Services is performing site assessments at twenty-three former fueling facilities in Oklahoma this month. The purpose of the assessments is to determine whether subsurface soil or groundwater contamination exists. The facilities have underground, petroleum storage tank systems that were not upgraded to meet regulatory requirements in the late 1980s. The tank systems remain unused and are registered as “Temporarily Out-of-Use (TOU)” with the state regulatory agency, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC).

Deanna Atkinson, president of the consulting firm Oklahoma Environmental Services, said, “We are investigating subsurface soil and groundwater at these locations to see if any contamination exists. Ideally, the soil and groundwater would be tested when the tanks are removed. Unfortunately, these tanks are basically orphaned so there are no responsible parties stepping up to remove the tanks. We’re sampling to see if a problem exists. The health concern would be that gasoline or diesel has leaked out of the tanks, into surrounding soil or groundwater. If that is the case, our company will clean it up”. Atkinson cited the reason these sites have not been assessed before now is the lack of a financial mechanism. This recently changed when Oklahoma received a Federal grant for the investigation.

Robyn Strickland, OCC Petroleum Storage Tank Division (PSTD) Director stated they received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for sampling these sites. The EPA had money available for state improvement projects so states were able to bid for that money. Strickland said their preference would be to use the money to remove the underground storage tanks but state Indemnity Fund and EPA grant monies will not pay for tank removals, it could only be used for sampling the facilities’ soil and groundwater. Strickland said criteria for candidate sites were those with: returned mail, no response to staff’s notifications and underground tanks that had not been upgraded to current regulatory standards.

Salim Douglah, OCC PSTD Technical Manager, said the goal of sampling is to satisfy pre-closure sampling protocols for when they resolve the issue of how, when and what mechanism to close these TOU tanks. When asked if the pressure would be on the owner to close the tanks, Mr. Southwick, OCC PSTD Legal Counsel, said that is what they are working on. Mr. Southwick said there is a lot to consider such as the interpretation of who is environmentally responsible versus someone who is the owner.

Currently, Oklahoma has approximately 1,700 underground storage tanks that previously stored petroleum products registered as Temporarily Out-of-Use.

ENID — Six women from Enid and northwest Oklahoma were honored among this year’s 50 Making a Difference, part of the Journal Record’s annual Woman of the Year gala last week.

Two of them, Deena Fisher and Janet Cunningham, both of Northwestern Oklahoma State University, were among eight inducted into the Circle of Excellence, which recognizes sustained achievement of women who have been a Woman of the Year honoree three or more times.

Fisher, of NWOSU Woodward, said she is delighted to share that honor with the president of her university, whom she admires.
“I’m excited and honored to be included in the eight women included in the Circle of Excellence,” Fisher said. “It’s a huge recognition. You hear from incredible women all across the state, encouraging you and telling you that you are making a difference for people all across the state of Oklahoma. I think recognition from your peers and people you have admired all your life has special meaning.”

April Danahy, vice president of corporate communication and human resources for Security National Bank, said this is her first year to be nominated.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Danahy said. “I’m very fortunate to live in a community that is open to new ideas.”

Ora Morgan, of Autry Technology Center, also was honored for the first time this year.
“It was humbling to be included among such an elite group of women,” Morgan said. “It’s something I never would have dreamed of, to be recognized for something I love to do.”

Deanna Atkinson, president of Oklahoma Environmental Services, said she also was a first-time honoree.
“It was a huge honor to be even considered in that group of women, and I’m so very honored to be included,” Atkinson said. “I love doing what I do and I believe in it.”

Oklahoma Environmental Services continues to be recognized and respected as the region's industry leader in soil and groundwater remediation. Established in 2002, OES’ experience and involvement in our communities have provided the necessary tools to develop innovative solutions for our clients.  Our team of professionals have received numerous awards of distinction, certification and industry recognition. In 2013,  we were honored at the Oklahoma Environmental Excellence Awards.
 
OES  excels at protecting the environment while promoting  economic growth and Oklahoma’s natural resources.  We are proud members of:
·         Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
·         Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association
·         Oklahoma Association of General Contractors
·         Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association
·         Commercial Real Estate Council
·         Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce
·         Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council
·         Environmental Federation of Oklahoma
·         ISNetworld

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Small Oklahoma Panhandle Town Water Supply Restored

Oklahoma Environmental Services, Inc. (OES) was called in to implement a solution for the town of Hardesty. In response to the impacted aquifer OES began a large recovery and extraction operation of free phase product that has taken 15 months to free approximately 6,000 gallons from the ground.

While the sub- surface soil and groundwater around the affected well was being cleaned up, Project Manager Erica Henry and her team turned to replacing the impacted water well. They secured a site for the new well 3500 feet from the impacted well. OES partnered with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to complete comprehensive testing of the new site to ensure safe drinking water, and OES began construction.