Long buried tank removed from Binnekill

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By Joe Moskowitz
Time and water can do many things, including hide a 500-gallon propane tank. Workers from the Village of Margaretville, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and workers from the environmental clean-up firm Op-Tech, removed just such a tank from Margaretville’s Binnekill stream last week.

The tank was there, forgotten, for at least the last 20 years, but only recently started to leak.
Village Code Enforcement Officer Pat Davis says people recently began smelling a gas odor in the skate park and near Ming Moon Restaurant.

All of the visible tanks in the area were checked for leaks, but then gas bubbles were noticed in the Binnekill. The bubbles were coming from a buried tank in the stream behind the restaurant. The tank may have been originally owned by Petrolane or TexGas, one of Suburban Propane’s predecessors, and used by an unknown customer at that location.

Out of sight
It had been abandoned and there was no record of its ownership. The biggest problem was it couldn’t be seen. Because of recent floods, Davis said that the Binnekill is now 15- to 20-feet wider than when the tank was in use.

Once it was determined that there was no propane left in the tank, work began to remove it. It did smell some but that’s the “perfume” that is added to propane to make it smell bad so that leaks can be easily detected. Propane is naturally odorless.
Op-Tech lifted the tank from the water and removed any chemical residue.

Davis says Margaretville’s good relations with the DEC saved the village money. He says the use of village pumps to lower the stream and providing crushed stone, along with Suburban’s agreement to take the old tank, kept the clean-up costs below $20,000. Davis says the DEC will pay for anything up to that amount, but if it goes beyond, the village or the property owner would be stuck with the bill.