October 3, 2010 - Mayor Annise Parker plans to shut down two-thirds of the city's 99 fueling stations, a cost-cutting measure intended to reduce the city's potential liability for leaking contaminants.
While the closures will save the city in the long run, the process of removing underground fuel storage tanks can be expensive. The price skyrockets if underground tanks are found to be leaking fuel or oil, requiring expensive remediation to dispose of contaminated soil to safeguard surrounding neighborhoods. In some cases, monitoring wells have to be drilled to make sure the leaking fuel products have not contaminated the groundwater under the sites.
In the last three years, the city has paid private contractors $5.8 million to replace underground storage tanks at city fire and police stations, public works facilities and parks. A number of the sites where tanks had leaked had to undergo extensive soil removal and other remediation efforts, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle.