Thursday, February 9, 2012

Under ground and above board

Lots of viewing entertainment this morning at the new Shell gas station construction site.  There's a finger pumper laying concrete, and those bulbous red objects are two of the gasoline underground storage tanks (USTs) that will be buried on the property.
Some folks are surprised when they see how big these things are.  They tend to be between 10,000 gallons and 20,000 gallons apiece, and multiple tanks are buried at each station - that's a lot of gasoline!  You can see that the one on the left appears to be longer than the one on the right.  That one has more capacity and is likely going to be used for one of the lower gasoline grades, which tend to sell at higher through-puts than the premium grades.
 My teenage daughter will attest that I routinely assault her brain with Daily Learning Moments in which I explain in short, snappy sentences the basics of how the world works, for the sake of strengthening her general knowledge and perspective.  Here is one such snippet regarding USTs and how government regulation and environmental impacts have conspired to produced the style of gasoline retail station we most commonly see today.

In the "olden days", retail gas stations were often operated as small "Mom and Pop" type businesses.  Unfortunately, that business model was one of the factors that contributed to environmental degradation, ultimately involving soil and groundwater pollution from tens of thousands of leaky fuel tanks.  Given that about 28% of of Texans use groundwater as their drinking water source, that contamination was a big problem.  One of the reasons why we see larger, more intricate franchise gasoline stations today is that the federal and state governments had no choice but to impose stringent technical standards upon them, to prevent continued groundwater pollution.  Many small operators could not afford to meet those standards, and the result was market rationalization into a preponderance of large, newer franchises, such as the one being built just outside our neighborhood

Texas has made considerable progress in cleaning up its underground storage tank legacy.  EPA summarizes the progress on this website, and the graph below shows how Texas has fared:
 25,610 leaking petroleum storage tanks! 
Next time someone suggests to you that Texas does not need "burdensome" environmental regulation, quote them that statistic and see how they respond.

EPA uses the acronym LUST for Leaking Underground Storage Tank.  Texas decided to change that term to Leaking Petroleum Storage Tank (LPST).  It's a more accurate term, and the change was also rumored to have been partially motivated by a concern about the potential for sexual harassment connotations surrounding the L-word.

 Excerpted from:
And speaking of Daily Learning Moments, as I happened to have my camera functioning this morning, I'll close this post with another one: 
West Walker Street is not a four-lane street.

Not only were these motorists doubled up where they should not have been, the dark one persistently remained in the white one's blind spot.  Not smart, folks.
I see this a lot, and I really wish the City of League City could have more pavement markers out there, like a shoulder line or bike lane line, to discourage it.  Look at how close that white truck is driving to the curb.  If he had bounced off that thing, it would have thrown him directly into the path of the darker vehicle.  This scenario is just not necessary. 

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