Most of the waste oil and rancid water that stunk up east Augusta last week has been removed from abandoned storage tanks on Prep Phillips Drive, according to environmental regulators.
"The contractors are finishing up and everything, at this point, appears to be stabilized," said Jeff Darley, the district program manager for Georgia's Environmental Protection Division.
One of the two 420,000-gallon tanks began leaking Oct. 29, prompting a flurry of complaints from nearby residents concerned about the foul odor released by the stagnant, oily water.
Contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Emergency Response Team have since pumped more than 600,000 gallons of water to Augusta's Messerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, Mr. Darley said.
Tests were performed on the water beforehand to make sure there were no contaminants unsuitable for the city sewer system, he said.
One of the tanks also contained about 30,000 gallons of waste oil that has been pumped into temporary - but secure - containers on site. That material will be removed soon and sent to a certified waste recycler.
The second tank, though drained of water, still has about six feet of oil inside, which will be removed at a later date, Mr. Darley said.
The company that owns the site - Beckham Petroleum - is in bankruptcy, but federal authorities will initiate efforts to recover their cleanup costs.
"The EPA is bound, by law, to seek cost recovery," Mr. Darley said.
Cost figures for the cleanup remain incomplete but likely will be "substantial," he said.
Currently, the area is safe and no longer smells. Tests to determine whether the leak affected the nearby Savannah River also came back favorably - with the conclusion that none of the material affected the waterway.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or email@example.com.
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