Iowa Retailers Seek State Aid to Replace USTs

Association requests statewide grant program

URBANDALE, Iowa -- Gas station and convenience store owners in Iowa are asking state lawmakers to set up a grant program to replace aging underground storage tanks for gas and diesel, according to a Radio Iowa report.

Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa

“A majority of these tanks are approaching or exceeding their useful life of 25 to 30 years and therefore over time they will become susceptible to leaks and other environmental hazards,” Dawn Carlson, president of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa, told the news service. “And they are certainly not compatible with ethanol blends higher than 10%.”

Since 2006, the state has offered grants to retailers who promise to sell E85 to customers. The grants of up to $50,000 each are to help retailers pay for new equipment to dispense the higher blend of ethanol. Carlson’s group, which represents more than 2,000 business locations, is asking for an expansion of that program, so tanks that have been in use for more than 25 years can be replaced with a “green” underground storage tank.

“By removing and replacing these tanks, we will be protecting the environment and also help ensure that fuel does not leak into Iowa’s groundwater,” Carlson said. “Additionally, underground storage tanks currently in place were not designed for these higher-level blends. Installation of new tanks that are compatible with up to E100 will enable retailers to sell higher blends of renewable fuels in the future.”

Carlson suggested the expense of a new underground tank may be out of reach for many Iowa retailers.

“While many of our members display the logo of a major oil company at their store, they are indeed owned and operated independent of the oil companies,” she said.

In 1989 state officials set up a fund for removal and cleanup of underground storage tanks that are already leaking. Over 6,000 sites have been evaluated over the past 25 years. According to the Legislative Services Agency, the state has spent over a quarter of a billion dollars removing the tanks and cleaning up the underground leaks.

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