BELGRADE — Compliance with a state environmental law left Christy’s Country Store, one of the few places in Belgrade to get gas, temporarily without its gas pumps.

Christy’s is one of five gas stations in the state that have been told to comply with a law that went into effect Jan. 1 governing oil storage and ground water protection.

The store, at the intersection of routes 27 and 135, was without its pumps for about a week. Owner Tony Yotides said Thursday that he was selling gas Thursday night and expects to be back to full speed in a day or two.

The store’s three above-ground storage tanks are within 300 feet of one or more private water supply wells and within 1,000 feet of one or more public water supply wells, so piping that conforms to new state requirements has to be installed.

“We didn’t have to take our tanks out. We’re replacing the piping because of a regulation that says everyone with above-ground tanks has to,” Yotides said. “There aren’t many 10,000-gallon above-ground tanks. Ours are behind the store in a fenced-in area. Most people bury them.”

He said the cost of the project was just less than $50,000 and took about 10 days.

“We knew it was coming, so you had time,” he said. “If you want to stay in business, you had to do it. That’s why there’s less and less gas stations. It’s going to take a year full of gas sales to pay for it.”

He added that S&P Services of Bangor got the job done quickly.

Andrew Flint, environmental specialist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, said a subsection of Maine’s Oil Storage Facilities and Ground Water Protection law that went into effect Jan. 1 requires underground pipes to above-ground motor fuel tanks that were installed before June 24, 1991, to be replaced.

He said above-ground tanks used to be regulated by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, but the DEP is involved with underground pipes, which the law now regulates.

“There are several of these (old-style piping systems) in the state,” Flint said Thursday. “We just discovered another system like Christy’s in Turner last Thursday. We knew of four others besides Christy’s that are in the same situation. We discover them from time to time as well.”

He said a lot of tanks installed before 1991 are still in use. During the 1980s and ’90s, above-ground tanks started being used instead of underground ones ,and the older underground tank systems that were not made of rust-proof material had to be removed because they often rusted and were the source of leaks that affect ground water.

He said it’s also easier to detect leaks and other problems with above-ground tanks. “You can see under and around above-ground tanks, so it’s quick and easy to determine if the tank is leaking, unlike an underground tank that requires a more technologically complex leak detection system.”

He said Christy’s two underground tanks were removed in 1988 and replaced by the above-ground tanks now in use there.

Flint said many gas station owners retrofitted the piping over the years so they would be in compliance when the law went into effect.

Yotides was issued a notice of violation July 5 for not installing new piping and a leak detection system by Jan. 1, Flint said.

The state issued no fine — only a request Yotides bring the business into compliance.

“He’s in Belgrade and has a busy summer season. We felt that was appropriate, so he will be in compliance as soon as the project is complete.”

Work at Christy’s began a week and a half ago.

He said single-walled piping was replaced by doubled-walled, so that any fuel that leaks out is caught. The system is also monitored by an electronic detection system for leaks.

“Mr. Yotides has been very cooperative in achieving compliance,” Flint added. “It’s a fairly expensive endeavor. It’s a pretty serious investment to upgrade his facility. He entered into a contract (for the project) and shared that with us, but wanted to wait until now (to do the work).”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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