Groundwater protection plan essentials for gas stations

December 30, 2015

Often, when towns and cities assess their potential environmental risks, they identify gas stations as "hot spots" that could pose a threat to local groundwater or surface water. To maintain productive relationships with municipalities, as well as to mitigate their own risks, gas stations should be prepared with a groundwater protection plan they can present to local officials.

These plans should detail how businesses plan to reduce groundwater contamination in the event of incident, from small fueling spills to larger equipment failures. Here's an outline of what gas stations should include in their site-specific groundwater protection plans:

  • Spill prevention: At gas stations, spill prevention often starts with the customer. In your plan, describe in detail the measures you take to eliminate fueling spills, from posting signs instructing customers not to top off fuel tanks to labeling emergency shutoff switches.
  • Containment plan: Businesses should also estimate the maximum quantity of fuel that could be spilled in the event of an equipment failure, as well as analyze potential migration pathways. The plan should also outline the practices in place to ensure contaminants do not reach surface water or groundwater. Include descriptions of all containment and diversionary structures on site, as well as confirmation that the people and resources would be available to respond in case of an incident.
  • Notification list: In the event of a spill, there are a number of parties that must be notified. Every business's plan should include a list of these individuals and their contact information, including local and remote management, fire and police, local and state agencies and spill response contractors.
  • Dry method clean-up: When smaller spills occur, demonstrate that employees have been properly trained to perform spot cleaning with dry methods, such as using rags or absorbents rather than water to mitigate spills.
  • Maintenance provisions: Each plan should also include a list of maintenance activities that are regularly performed at the site, as well as the steps the business will take to ensure they do not interfere with proper stormwater management, spill containment or leak detection systems.

When developing a groundwater monitoring or protection program, leveraging the expertise of environmental consultants like PPM can ensure the process is completed not only accurately, but as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.They can help ensure that in addition to protecting public relations, a business's groundwater protection plan addresses all relevant Environmental Protection Agency standards and regulations.