TYRONE - An underground gas tank unearthed in Tyrone has the state Department of Environmental Protection looking into whether the tank is a contamination threat and if it is, who will bear the brunt of cleaning it up.
Work crews digging up a sidewalk of Columbia Avenue at the corner of West 15th Street discovered the underground tank Wednesday while laying replacement gas lines, Peoples Natural Gas spokesman Barry Kukovich said.
"They stopped work, left it open, put up a barrier and called in DEP," Kukovich said.
Mirror photo by Greg Bock
Workers backfill around an old gas tank unearthed Wednesday in Tyrone during natural gas line replacement work at West 15th Street and Columbia Avenue.
Trying to figure out whether there was a gas station at the location, now a car wash and laundromat, took some more digging, Tyrone Mayor Bill Fink said.
"Dudley 'Dud' Wilson had a gas station there 60 or 70 years ago," said Fink, who added the current owner of the property, Charles Bressler, told the borough that gas tanks were removed from the other side of the property years ago and he wasn't aware of another.
Bressler declined to comment.
Fink said the location of the tank, one he explained was "sizable" and full of a liquid described to him as having a kerosene-like smell, was underneath the sidewalk on PennDOT right-a-way.
Fink speculated the tank may even predate the Wilson gas station because it was so close to the road; early gas pumps were curbside so drivers could pull up, fill up and drive off.
Regardless of its origins, Fink said the tank is full and the borough is obviously concerned about contaminates so close to nearby homes.
"We're sending someone out [today] to do a field test," DEP spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz said.
Today's test will determine if the substance in the tank is a contaminate, Kasianowitz said. If it is gas, it will have to be addressed according to regulations, she said.
"We would work with the owner to remove the gas," Kasianowitz said.
To test the substance, the DEP field agent will coat a probe with a paste and dip it into the tank, she said. The paste will change color to show what is in the tank, she said.
The tank wouldn't have been uncovered had PennDOT not forced Peoples to run its new gas line down the sidewalk as opposed to the middle of the street where the old line is situated, Fink said.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.