Improving the fuel farm

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 9/14/21

SWAN LAKE, NY —  Underground fuel storage tanks are a fact of life here. For several decades, homeowners have been faced with getting their oil tanks out of the ground, where they might …

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Improving the fuel farm

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SWAN LAKE, NY —  Underground fuel storage tanks are a fact of life here. For several decades, homeowners have been faced with getting their oil tanks out of the ground, where they might leak unseen and cause environmental damage.

Turns out those rules apply to everyone.

At the September 9 public works committee meeting, commissioner Ed McAndrew explained a resolution to replace the fuel storage tanks, aka the fuel farm, at the Sullivan County International Airport.

The fuel farm: probably not what you think

The phrase evokes an image of stalks of future ethanol waving gently in the breeze. It turns out that a fuel farm is just a place to store bulk fuel, which is something the airport needs.

Airports, explains the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, “need to provide a ready source of fuel for their users—including commercial airlines, general aviation, corporate aircraft operators, and other commercial operators. Fuel farms are an efficient way to provide storage and dispensing of aviation fuels to multiple users at an airport.”

The sale of fuel is a critical income stream at the airport. Airport superintendent Jim Arnott opened his report with upbeat news on jet fuel profits. “As of the end of August, we’re $100,000 ahead of last year… and there are still four months to go.”

That means that the safe storage of fuel is important for both the environment and the profitability of the airport.

The project

The underground tanks have been monitored, McAndrew said, but they need to be replaced with above-ground tanks. The bid to replace the tanks was won by the American Petroleum Equipment and Construction Company.

The county public works department “is doing most of the work in-house, but [APECC is] going to come in, set the tank, hook it up,” he said.

Ninety percent of the cost, or $485,100, is paid for by the New York State Department of Transportation and 10 percent ($53,900) is borne by the county.

Uneasy, being green

“[The DEC] wants all the above-ground tanks to be either white or beige,” McAndrew continued. “We’re going to be on a painting program because most of our above-ground… tanks are all green.”

The green tanks heat up faster, which could lead to off-gassing. “So we’ll paint all our tanks white and/or beige.”

“Which color?” joked chairman Rob Doherty.

“We might do half-and-half,” McAndrew said, straight-faced.

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