About a year ago, in an effort to save money and avoid potential costly environmental risks, the city of North Myrtle Beach began transitioning from maintaining its own fuel supply for police, public works and other public vehicles to using fuel cards for fuel purchases at local stations.
The final part of that transition is now underway as contracted crews remove four underground fuel tanks near the city's vehicle maintenance area on 2nd Avenue South.
There are four underground tanks, each weighing about 9,000 pounds and each capable of holding about 10,000 gallons of fuel-- two for diesel and two for gasoline.
The tanks will be taken to a scrap yard but before that happens each tank must be emptied of any remaining with a vactor truck and then power washed inside to remove as much diesel or gasoline residue as possible. The power washing is done by a person wearing a haz-mat suit and breathing apparatus, who enters the tank via a hole cut in the end of the tank (see hole photo). Only then can the scrap yard use torches to cut up and recycle the old tanks.
It is estimated that the fuel tanks have been in the ground for more than 40 years and they appear to be in good shape. Once the tanks have been removed, the SC Department of Health & Environmental Control will determine if any soil remediation is necessary at the site.
The city has also joined an alliance that includes large cities like Charlotte, NC to purchase emergency fuel at a reduced rate for those times when hurricanes, ice storms or other events temporarily knock out electrical power and access to fuel at local stations. A firm provides the city with one above-ground tank for diesel fuel and one for gasoline. Whatever fuel the city does not use from the two above-ground emergency tanks each year goes back to the supplier and the city is credited for the return of the product.
(For more photos of the work that is being done, visit Facebook.com/cityofnmb)