BROOKLIN — The Brooklin General Store has, at least temporarily, stopped selling gas because the store’s two underground petroleum storage tanks have reached their 30-year expiration date and must be removed, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
“It’s a challenging situation for a small business,” said Brooklin General Store co-owner Lorinda Toscas via email.
Meanwhile, residents are challenged too. The closest station is the Eggemoggin Country Store, nine miles away in Sedgwick followed by two stations on South Street in Blue Hill — 11 miles away.
Brooklin General alerted patrons about the situation in an April 23 social media post.
“The challenge for us has been trying to figure out a cost-effective way to replace these tanks and gasoline delivery system,” the store stated. “The reality is that it is expensive and will further strain this small business. We have been reaching out to various state officials and field experts and researching grants in an attempt to creatively find a solution.”
Scott Whittier, division director for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s petroleum management division, said the design for petroleum storage tanks changed in the early ’90s.
The tanks at the Brooklin store are “what we call single-wall tanks,” Whittier said. “The current design for storing petroleum is double-walled tanks.”
That means the tanks have an inner wall and an outer wall. The space between the two walls of the tanks is monitored, Whittier said. If any petroleum leaks into the area between the two walls, the leak can be fixed before it affects the environment.
Conversely, if any water is entering the tank from the outside wall, that can be remedied also.
Whittier said the tanks at the store were “perfectly legitimate at the time they were installed.” That would have been April of 1989, he said.
“Since that time, Maine as most states have, has gone to a more protected design,” Whittier said.
“Without any type of deadline you have a situation where tanks are left in the ground until they leak,” he said. “That’s not the best approach.”