Gas Stations are a key part of modern American life. You can’t go more than a mile in any given direction without seeing one in most cities. But what happens when these purveyors of fuel and food shut down? When a gas station closes up shop for good, the decaying building, asphalt lot, and underground storage tanks remain. These ruins are far more harmful than being mere eyesores however. The underground tanks can act as massive environmental time-bombs, threatening to leak gasoline, diesel, and raw oil into the ground and water table. Because of this, the City of Chicago and many other areas closely regulate disused gas station properties. Chicago enforces its regulations rather stringently and old gas stations that have sat around for a year or more are force-ably demolished and the tanks removed by the city. While this definitely removes some problem sites, there are many former gas station properties and underground tanks that are unregistered with the city and the state. The authorities can only act on these sites after they are discovered by chance. These unregistered sites could be leaking vast amounts of dangerous chemicals into city water supplies and the city would never know about them. In order to fix this, the state and city could offer incentives for property owners to have their properties surveyed for possible unknown underground storage tanks. This would go a long way toward efficiently containing the problem of old tanks leaking toxins into our neighborhoods.
The City of Chicago
The Chicago Tribune