Twenty-three years ago, in 1989, diesel spilled from a leaking tank at Tolland's Highway Garage at 118 Old Post Road.
And until last week, Tolland was the owner of one of the oldest Department of Energy and Environmental Protection consent orders in the state, as money was figuratively poured into the ground to try to remove the diesel and to test for contamination.
In fact, Public Works Director Clem Langlois, Jr. estimates that the amount is probably close to $850,000, a figure that encouraged him to resolve the issue once and for all when he became head of the department three years ago.
"It was one of my big goals to get this out of here," he said.
According to Town Manager Steven Werbner, the problem dragged out for many years due to changing DEEP contamination standards. Years ago, the town dug 25 monitoring wells to test the levels of diesel around the garage four times a year. Various efforts were made to remove the diesel particles from the bedrock, but whenever the town reached the state standard, a new, lower standard would take its place, prolonging the consent order.
The spill was costing the town each year, since mandatory quarterly testing ran from $22,000 to $50,000, Langlois said. The town also ran a water line from Parker School to the garage to hook up a house with a well close to the spill. No residential wells were ever shown to be impacted, Werbner said.
But in April 2010, the town found a solution. Langlois explained that nine additional wells were dug at the garage and hydrogen peroxide was pumped into the wells in the hopes of removing the diesel particles through chemical oxidation.
And as of last week, the town received its hard won Certificate of Compliance, one that Werbner said will be much appreciated.
"I'm just thrilled that we've been able to finally resolve this matter," he said. "It's to Clem's credit and to Jerry Clark who worked with us. We're appreciative to DEEP for finally working with us to resolve the matter."
Tolland resident Jerry Clark, an environmental engineer, also assisted the town with the problem.
Langlois added that DEEP will reimburse a portion of the town's expenses.
Make sure to check out the certificate, shown above.