Tank take-out plan posed

Chico State University and an environmental consulting firm are putting together a “work plan” to clean up oil found in a metal tank long buried in the Facilities and Management Services (FMS) yard.

Ken Sator, the university’s director of environmental management, health and safety, expects that by the second week in December the Chico firm of Lane Hess & Associates will have a plan to further test the tank and surrounding soil (by boring into the ground) before excavating it sometime next spring.

The plan, with its timelines and methods, must first be approved by the county.

Meanwhile, in a separate issue that is related by geography, two areas of diesel contamination are also being grappled with.

Sator confirmed that there are areas near Big Chico Creek on either side of the railroad tracks—on the west side inside the FMS yard and on the east side in a university parking lot—that have underground contamination. “We have done some samples there, and it has come back diesel and oil,” he said. “We don’t know what the source of the contamination is.”

Sator said the diesel does not pose a health threat. “Diesel’s not a big deal other than we have to remediate,” he said. “It’s more of a cost and work issue.”

Since the spill inside the FMS yard is within 50 feet of the tracks, Union Pacific is legally required to deal with the problem, Sator said.

In mid-October, samples of the underground tank’s contents were sent to Basic Laboratory in Redding, which found no presence of carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), even though it’s buried near where PG&E used to work on transformers when it owned the property.