Oil tank at Parkhouse fails environmental test

View of the west building at Parkhouse Providence Pointe. Times Herald File Photo

NORRISTOWN — The Montgomery County commissioners unanimously approved a motion this week to excavate an underground heating oil tank at Parkhouse Providence Pointe, Upper Providence, that failed a tightness test Jan. 23.

The tank was one of five tested on the property but the only one that failed the test. The tank is underneath a twin home where a maintenance and security worker lives and does not serve as the main tank that heats the facility. The commissioners did not give a date for when excavation will begin but said they want it to happen soon.

“This occurs quite frequently, but given the nature of these issues, we want to move quickly,” said Josh Stein, first deputy to the county solicitor.

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The fact that the tank failed the tightness test does not mean that heating oil has leaked into the soil, Stein said.

Commissioner Bruce Castor asked Stein what efforts were being made to make sure no oil has reached the Schuylkill River, which is a few hundred yards away from the tank.

“We’ll need to excavate and dig up the tank, then do any soil testing, remove any soil which may have been contaminated and replace the tank,” Stein said.

The tank in question was operational before the tightness test in January and it does undergo regular testing, including one that was scheduled a week after the leak was found.

“All of the other tanks that are on-site there passed their testing,” Stein said.

The county commissioners have contracted to sell the facility to Mid-Atlantic LLC, but before the sale can be finalized, other tests need to be done as part of Mid-Atlantic’s due diligence.

County solicitor Raymond McGarry said additional environmental tests need to be done, along with some building tests, including water infiltration. Other issues include bathroom tiles, the parking lot, the roof on the water tower and some roof areas, McGarry said.

The potential cost of the repairs could exceed $1 million, but the final price the county pays in repairs will be a part of final negotiations, he said.

“That’s why we need our own engineers to study this,” he said.

The issues the county has been presented with came from engineers Mid-Atlantic hired.

Once the due diligence process is complete, the county and Mid-Atlantic will discuss what needs to be fixed and how much it should cost the county.

“This is the normal due diligence process, and we want to make sure our folks who work for Montgomery County who are familiar with the building, having worked in the past for Montgomery County, are giving us their assessment on the issue, and that ultimately allows us to compare notes with Mid-Atlantic and come to a final agreement on that which needs to be fixed or that which needs to be covered from a cost standpoint,” commissioners’ Chairman Shapiro said.

The sale of Parkhouse was supposed to be finalized on Jan. 31 but was pushed back so the environmental and building tests could be performed. Currently, the county does not have a closing date for the sale.

Information from the Times Herald, www.timesherald.com