Kickapoo gas station is targeted 18 years after soil clean-up

By Beau Ebenezer

April 4, 2013 Updated Apr 4, 2013 at 10:45 PM CDT

KICKAPOO Ill -- Peoria resident, Reid Larson has been running the Mobil Service Center at the Kickapoo exit off of Interstate 74 since 1977.

Now, Larson is in shock after receiving a letter from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) on a matter he hasn't even thought about for some time.

"Three weeks ago, I got a letter from EPA saying I had a gas spill," said Larson. "I wrote them back and said to tell me some details."

It began in 1995 when Larson hired a specialized engineering firm to replace his old gasoline tanks because of new federal regulations.

Larson said during the process of installing new tanks, he discovered the old pumps had been leaking gasoline into the soil, so the engineering firm dug out the contaminated soil and filed the required documents with the IEPA, which explained the project and the clean-up.

"We went out of our way to do everything the state asked," said Larson. "We didn't cut any corners. The company that I hired only does gas station remodels, so I think they did their job correctly."

However, 18 years later, he received a letter stating that his paperwork was incomplete, and he must come up with a corrective action plan within the next three months.

Reid said this late notice came a few years after he built a big storage garage on top of the displaced soil, which gives him more concern for his property.

Larson added that he will most likely have to do more soil testing which will cost him out of his own pocket.

"Where were they 18 years? It just boggles the mind."

Agency officials said the delay is due to more than 26,000 cases they have had to go through since 1986, with about 2,000 still remaining.

"The Larson case was one of those cases that posed the least amount of threat to the public and they are just trying to work through the paperwork," said IEPA Spokesperson, Andrew Mason. "It is more of just a paperwork thing at this point. Our director has halted the letters that are being sent out. We are going to revise them. They are going to be more clearly explained like why are we doing this now."

Larson is in the first stages of finishing the paperwork with his engineering firm and hopes to have it resolved soon.

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