Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Where has the stormwater runoff from Metro Water's toxic petroleum pile flowed in the last 10 years?

News that Metro Water Services has allowed fuel-contaminated soil to sit on a parking lot near my home for the last decade (and has now started to bury that soil underground nearby) got me to wondering where all the run-off from that soil went over the years. I have strolled the Downtown Connector Greenway that runs through the plant for as long as it has been open and I remember seeing a ravine and a drain near the parking lot where the pile is kept.

Look at the photos I recently took below that move progressively closer to the drain. The pile of petroleum soil sits but a few yards uphill from the drain at the bottom of the ravine. Where does the drain carry the stormwater from the parking lot? If it is a storm drain, it goes straight to the river. How much petroleum has been washed out of the pile and into the Cumberland River (assuming it is a storm drain) in the last 10 years?

Petroleum pile on the left in the photo; ravine on the right.

Ravine below the treeline; petroleum pile behind treeline.

Ravine with drain, downhill from petroleum pile.

If this is a stormwater drain, it goes to the river.

Again, I do not know for fact whether the drain that captures the pile's stormwater run-off carries the water straight to the Cumberland, or whether the water is contained below ground and remediated before it is sent to the Cumberland. If it is untreated stormwater, Metro Water has likely been polluting the Cumberland for 10 years by allowing the soil to stay heaped on the parking lot beside the ravine.

The situation would be better if the drain leads to some form of containment tank that keeps the untreated water from flowing to the Cumberland. Except that it would not have been better in May 2010. The photo below show that the ravine was inundated with floodwaters that come right up to the foot of the petroleum pile. If the drain leads to containment, that containment was overwhelmed by rising floodwaters and whatever was in it likely came out.

May 3, 2010 aerial photo of flooded ravine, inundated drain.

Metro Water has so many storm drains in the area, and I'm betting that the ravine was designed to send stormwater straight to the river. If that is the case, I hope that MWS has been monitoring the levels of uncontained petroleum that likely would have also spilled from the contaminated soil it allowed to remain for so long exposed during rainy periods.

CONFIRMED: It is a storm drain, and hence, runs to the Cumberland River, which is a stone's throw away.

No comments:

Post a Comment