Shell Oil Co. told the state of Washington’s Department of Ecology that it would voluntarily clean up contamination at 83 current and former gas stations in Western Washington, the AP bureau in Seattle reported.
It’s the first time an oil company has voluntarily undertaken such a massive cleanup in the state at one time, Ecology officials told the AP.
"That’s a very large chunk of contaminated former gas stations … in one fell swoop," said Larry Altose, an Ecology spokesman. "We hope it’s a sign that clears the way in the future to do hundreds of these around the state."
Shell agreed to clean up all of its former and current gas stations that have soil or groundwater contamination in four Washington counties.
The gas stations have single-walled steel tanks that corroded over time and leaked, contaminating soil and groundwater.
Cleanup is usually done on a site-by-site basis, but Shell agreed to accelerate its efforts with a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the AP said, adding that the project could take anywhere from several months to several years.
There are currently about 6,400 leaking underground storage tanks in Washington.