Two Caltex petrol stations in Canberra have been conducting remediation works on land believed to be contaminated by leaking fuel storage tanks.
The two independently owned stations, in Kaleen and Mitchell, applied for exemptions related to the work in April last year.
On April 5 an application was lodged with the ACT government seeking an environmental impact statement exemption for work at the Caltex on Maribyrnong Avenue, Kaleen.
Two days later, a similar exemption was lodged with the government concerning remediation work at the Caltex on Lysaught Street, Mitchell.
Contamination was found to present a low risk to human health at both sites.
The exemption application for the Kaleen service station said the underground tanks would be replaced to reduce the risk of future leaks.
“This will ensure that the risk of future leakages is minimised as infrastructure is brought up to current industry standards, and that the contaminated soil on site can be removed so further leaching into soil and groundwater does not occur.”
In addition to remediating contaminated land at the Kaleen site, a development application also outlined plans for a new building, fuel lines and bowsers at the site.
“The objective of the [underground petrol storage system] removal works is to install new tanks and lines, and at the same time to remove former fuel infrastructure and any significantly contaminated soil around the infrastructure, so that the site is suitable for continued use as a service station,” engineers wrote.
A remediation action plan prepared for the Kaleen site in April 2017 said the presence of contamination was likely due to leaks from underground storage tanks.
Environmental consultants from engineering firm WSP identified contamination at the Mitchell Caltex following routine testing in 2015.
“Groundwater data from the [environmental site assessment] investigation showed dissolved hydrocarbon impacts in all four groundwater monitoring wells in the vicinity of the tank farm,” read a 2016 report prepared for the service station’s owners.
“Human health and/or environmental assessment criteria was exceeded in all four monitoring wells in the 2015 [environmental site assessment].”
The 2015 report by engineers WSP said there was no evidence that freshwater ecosystems had been contaminated by the leak.
“However, delineation of the detected groundwater contamination is necessary to fully assess this risk,” they wrote.
On the advice of officials, Planning Minister Mick Gentleman granted both applications exemptions from the environmental impact statement process.
In both cases officials said an impact statement would not be required because extensive environmental studies had already been completed.
Mitchell station owner Ross Di Bartolo said the leak at his site had been picked-up during routine testing and thoroughly addressed by environmental engineers.
He said he had spent almost $1 million on environmental reports, remediation and follow-up testing at the site, which would soon re-open.
Kaleen station owner John Evangelista said the old petrol tanks and lines were removed as part of a site upgrade project.
"The ACT Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has approved the installation of the new tanks and lines in support of the use of the site as a service station," he said.
"We anticipate the site being reopened by late June 2018."
A Caltex spokeswoman said the company supplied the two sites and did not own the petrol infrastructure.