Bulk Fuel Terminal Remediation

Ongoing special consultation for a complex PFAS environmental cleanup.

On October 15, 2019, a fire occurred within a tank farm at a bulk fuel storage facility in northern California. Gasoline-denatured ethanol and smaller quantities of renewable diesel and jet fuel were released, but then contained within the tank farm’s secondary containment area—just as it was designed to do. Multiple agencies responded and used water and an aqueous film forming foam concentrate (AFFF) containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to suppress the fire. Prior to the 2019 tank fire, the tank farm contained three 200,000-barrel aboveground storage tanks (ASTs), two of which were destroyed during the fire.

The owner had to manage a challenging environmental response, both during and after the fire. Earthen berms around the affected tank farm contained the firewater, PFAS-containing firefighting foam, and released fuels, all of which needed to be carefully remediated. Leading the emergency response on behalf of the owner was Joe Aldridge, now a principal geologist at GeoEngineers. Joe worked closely with contractors and the prime environmental consultant to evaluate, monitor, control conditions and begin to remediate the site. With GeoEngineers since early 2021, Joe continues to work closely on this complex remediation effort on behalf of the owner.

 

Approach

  • Containment and Removal: As with any emergency environmental response, containment was the first priority. Joe delivered instructions on how to secure nearby stormwater valves, pipes, and other entry points to prevent chemical exit from the facility. Contaminated water and foam from the tank farms was transferred into frac tanks (large, portable, liquid storage tanks) for removal and appropriate disposal.  Disposal facilities were evaluated to identify minimal risk of future liability.
  • Monitoring and Ongoing Capture: Soil and groundwater sampling showed that chemicals of concern were present after the event. Joe managed the selection and setup of a mobile water treatment system designed to remove PFAS and the other chemicals of concern with physical filtration (activated carbon filters and ion-exchange resin). The team is still using this system in combination with other strategies, like spraying a latex liner in the tank farms, and coating sloped soil and berms with barrier products, and sealing underground conveyance pipes to prevent off-site migration.
  • Remedial Investigation and Remediation Design: Further subsurface investigation and feasibility studies will guide the final remediation design. In the meantime, the team is preparing an improved water treatment system that will manage PFAS and the other chemicals of concern in impounded storm water and ground water.

Results

Since joining GeoEngineers, Joe Aldridge has continued to provide lead support on this complex remediation project for the owner. His careful analysis, leadership, and experience with emerging contaminants like PFAS is helping to guide the client toward the best remediation strategy available and reducing the owner’s liability.

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