WRIGHT TOWNSHIP -- Nearly two decades and $ 1 million later, state officials say contamination from an old gas station in Luzerne County is finally cleaned up.
Department of Environmental Protection officials say more than 1,000 tons of contaminated soil and groundwater had to be trucked out of the Mountain Top area. The project took nearly twice as long as it should have because crews discovered leaking gasoline tanks underground that were never reported to the state.
It may just look like a grassy, gravel lot but DEP officials call the property along Albert Corners in the Mountain Top area a success story.
DEP officials believe a developer from England purchased the property in the 1980s not knowing it used to be a gas station on South Main Street in Wright Township.
Photos show contractors using heavy equipment to remove the abandoned underground tanks that had been leaking gasoline and diesel fuel for years.
"For some reason, every time we would use the oxygenation, it just wouldn't give us the result we were looking for. A further dig discovered three more additional tanks in 2004," DEP official Colleen Connolly explained.
There are still pieces of concrete pad left from the old gas station. People who live nearby tell us they are relieved that the big cleanup project is finally complete. Especially for one guy who is trying to build an ice cream shop at Albert Corners.
"DEP has done a wonderful job doing the reclaiming and getting the contamination out on this side of the corner, where there was some tanks that did leak a former gas station called the Albert Corners Texaco," said Jason Rasmus of Wright Township.
With the cleanup complete, Rasmus says he plans to move forward with building Brookside Dairy across the street.
Connolly says the $1 million project was paid for with the underground storage tanks fund. It's a tax paid for by gas station owners and people filling up at the pump used for cleanup projects.
"There's an attempt to recoup. We're not very confident we'll get all of the money back," said Connolly.
That land is expected to be put up for sale soon.
The DEP says groundwater in the area is safe but it's unlikely the state will ever get money from the original property owners to pay for the project.