Toxic Legacies

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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.

Works Cited:
The City of Chicago
http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/environmental_permitsandregulation/abandonded_servicestationprogram.html
The Chicago Tribune
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1992-05-05/business/9202090959_1_tanks-leaking-service-stations

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5 thoughts on “Toxic Legacies

  1. It is terrifying to think that such harmful pollutants like these are on the loose. I think your incentivized surveys are an interesting approach. I wonder what some of the incentives would include? I wonder how many un-registered tanks we would actually find if people began investigating their land?

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  2. I agree that the amount of gas stations scattered across the entire continental United States is quite vast. You made a good point in highlighting the fact that these non-functioning gas stations pose more of a threat than just an eye sore, but they contaminate their areas as well. I wonder how expensive it is to tear down these vacant gas stations, only because so many are left standing.

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  3. Its astonishing how many sites like these are unregistered. The possibility of contaminated water through this is very real. People need to start reporting such places to their authorities so that we can get rid of these places.

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  4. I think we all know that gas stations are super bad for the environment, but I had never even thought about what happens after the gas station is used up. I feel like everyone passes them thinking they look bad, but nobody actually thinks about what’s going on underneath. I wonder how bad the environmental impact of tearing the stuff out is too.

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  5. I think this a great article i have always been interested in since i have a love for cars. I already knew of the problems associated with old gas stations, but i wonder how severe this problem will become when gasoline becomes obsolete. This is going to be a major area of concern in the years to come as technology advances

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