Fuel depot must be replaced in next few weeks

Red-tagged! And it could cost taxpayers $400,000.

The fuel depot that provides both gasoline and diesel fuel for all manner of town vehicles — plow trucks, police cars, fire trucks, school buses — has been given just weeks of continued operation by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“They’ve red-tagged our fuel system, which means it’s shut down,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Board of Finance Tuesday night.

A DEEP inspector visited the town fuel depot late last week, determined that the tanks were more than 30 years old, and put the reg tags on them — “which says a delivery can’t be received,” Marconi said.

“Was there leakage?” finance board member Marty Heiser asked.

“No,” Marconi said.

But the inspector said there’s no flexibility about ending the use of the tanks after 30 years.

“It’s a hard date,” Marconi told the board.

This isn’t a complete surprise to town officials. A renovation of the fuel depot, off South Street near the recycling center, appears as a $300,000 item in the town five-year capital plan — for 2018-19, the year after next.

Now the project must be moved up.

The town can continue pumping and filling vehicles with the remaining fuel in the tanks. But no company — no driver — will deliver more fuel into the red-tagged tanks.

The depot has two 10,000-gallon diesel fuel tanks and one 10,000 -gallon gasoline tank to be replaced. The school buses from the Board of Education’s contractor, First Student, use about 10,000 gallons a month, Marconi said. He added that he hopes there isn’t another big snowstorm that would keep the highway department’s fleet of plow trucks out on the roads long hours, burning up fuel.

“The feeling is, we’ve got another week and a half to two weeks,” Marconi said.


Marconi showed the finance board a preliminary estimate from True Blue Environmental, a Wallingford-based company, that included installation of a temporary fueling systems, as well as construction of the new tanks.

“Please note that the above temporary systems could be in place and operational within one week of your notice to proceed,” the company said.

The immediate costs for the temporary fueling system exceed $70,000, and include $16,250 to provide and install the temporary system, four months of system rental for $12,000, and $42,500 for “decommissioning and removal of the existing system.”

There might also be “contaminated soil removal and disposal at $135 a ton.”

For construction of the new above-ground tanks, the company’s estimate suggested the town budget $325,000 to $400,000, and another $30,000 to $50,000 to redo the canopy and lighting at the depot.

Moving forward

The selectmen voted on the proposed 2016-17 budget before the fuel depot project became so urgent. A telephone conference with Town Attorney David Grogins during Tuesday night’s meeting confirmed that it is beyond the authority of the finance board to add items to the budget that were not requested by either the selectmen or the Board of Education.

So Marconi will try to schedule a selectmen’s meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday to provide Thursday night’s finance board meeting with a request from the selectmen to add the fuel depot to the $3.9-million 2017-18 capital budget.

Marconi had briefly mentioned the fuel depot project earlier in the budget process, when it was still thought to be a year or two off, and had warned fellow selectmen that the change from the current underground fuel tanks to the above-ground tanks now favored by the environmental department might not be visually appealing to some.

“People aren’t going to like it,” he’d said.

But having the school buses run out of fuel wouldn’t be too popular, either.