Town of Patten protects water supply State funds new oil tank installations

13 years ago

By Elna Seabrooks
Staff Writer

    PATTEN — Replacement of rusty, unstable oil tanks threatening Patten’s water supply is nearly complete according to Terri Conklin, the town manager. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) stepped in to install new tanks made of thick polyethylene plastic surrounded by a sheet metal jacket. The double wall is intended to contain oil if the thick plastic ruptures — an event the DEP considers unlikely in the new style tanks.
    “They have replaced 20 tanks so far. And, they are almost done,” said Conklin. “The cost is $100,000 and Patten definitely could not have afforded to do this without the grant.” Replacement and removal of the old tanks is being paid for through funding by the Ground Water Cleanup Fund.
    The cleanup of the unstable underground home heating oil tanks, gasoline tanks and contaminated soil near the former Patten General Store, said Conklin is “a proactive step to protect the public water supply and eliminate threats to it.”
    “The DEP responds to an average of one spill a day from residential aboveground home heating oil tanks,” according to DEP environmental engineer Peter Moulton. “The number-one cause is internal corrosion. Replacing a rusty steel tank with one that will not rust just makes good sense.”
    Under a July 2009 Maine law, new or replacement home heating oil tanks within the wellhead protection area of a community water supply must be “double wall” or have “secondary containment.” The new law aims to prevent oil spills since they can occur from corrosion, broken filters if snow or ice snap the filter off or if overfilling contaminates wells. Such spills, according to the DEP cost the state between one and two million dollars a year.