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Undocumented tank adds to cost of Washington County Free Library project

July 26, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • In this Herald-Mail file photo, the Washington County Free Library Renovation Project was still in its site demolition phase and has begun the building excavation process. The discovery of an undocumented underground fuel storage tank added more than $41,000 to the cost of the Washington County Free Library reconstruction and expansion project, county officials said Tuesday.
Herald-Mail file photo

The discovery of an undocumented underground fuel storage tank added more than $41,000 to the cost of the Washington County Free Library reconstruction and expansion project, county officials said Tuesday.

The long-abandoned tank was discovered May 5 and had to be removed in accordance with Maryland Department of Environment guidelines, said Joseph Kroboth III, county director of public works.  

Kroboth said he emailed the county Board of Commissioners the day after the tank was discovered, and a majority of the five-member panel granted permission to proceed with the removal.

On Tuesday, the board voted 4-0 to formally approve the $41,273.22 change order, which included removal of the tank, environmental testing, removal of unsuitable soils and backfill of the hole.

Commissioner John F. Barr abstained from the vote because his company, Ellsworth Electric, is employed on the library project.

The library construction contract was originally for about $15.95 million. With the fuel tank and several other, smaller change orders, the total contract is now about $16.02 million.

The additional cost came out of a contingency fund for the project that, before the fuel tank was discovered, had a balance of about $2.36 million, according to a report from Kroboth.

The fuel tank removal overlapped with unrelated work to replace unsuitable soils, so no delay was caused, according to documents from Dustin Construction. The anticipated construction completion date is Nov. 13.

The 10,000-gallon storage tank was found during excavation along the east side of the renovation site, according to Kroboth's report.

During the design phase of the project, an environmental assessment was performed that included review of the original construction drawings and registries of underground storage tanks, Kroboth said.

"No one had any record of this tank," he said.

The environmental assessment report mentioned two fuel oil pipes extending from the building that were investigated, but reported to be plugged about 6 feet from the building, he said.

Project officials believe the tank was installed with the original building construction in the early 1960s to hold fuel oil for heating. But, shortly after that, natural gas became available, and the building was converted to natural gas heat, Kroboth said.

The tank was abandoned in place by filling it with concrete slurry, according to the change order.

"This was an acceptable practice and allowed per Maryland Department of the Environment requirements at the time," the change order said. "Since then MDE now requires USTs (underground storage tanks) that are abandoned/not in service are to be removed in accordance with current MDE guidelines."

Soil tests around the tank showed no hazardous materials above MDE limits or that required special handling, Project Manager Gary Pozzouli said.

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How they voted:

Terry Baker: Yes

John F. Barr: Abstained

Ruth Anne Callaham: Yes

Jeffrey A. Cline: Yes

William B. McKinley: Yes

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