Gas Stations Pollution
Gas stations are found everywhere. They are so common and necessary that they became an integral part of our daily lives. Thus, it is no wonder that they are not usually associated with environmental and health risks, and even less with home pollution. For example, have you asked yourself: “Is my home or the house I intend to buy close to a gas station?” Is the proximity to a gas station an excluding criterion for house shopping? Well, it may be! The following paragraphs should help you decide by yourself.
Below are presented, briefly, the main and sometimes severe pollution problems associated with gas stations along with the subsequent health, environmental, and home pollution risks. Additionally, due to the importance and practical relevance, prevention and cost recovery issues are first discussed.
Prevention and Cost Recovery
- Personal damage. From the perspective of the public, the best prevention is to spend as little time as possible at a gas station and avoid living close to a gas station (e.g., 1 block or less). However, if this is not possible or if the exposure has already occurred (e.g., you live within 1 block from a gas station or are employed at a convenience store) you may be entitled to compensation.
- Property damage. From the perspective of gas station owners and/or operators, usually the insurance company may pay for pollution damage. However, not all pollution cases are straightforward and the insurance may try to avoid paying whenever possible. Gas station pollution liability is complex and legal advice is recommended.
Gas Station Pollution Release
Pollution released at gas stations is mainly due to the following:
- Accidental leaks and spills
- Gas station pollution violations
- Gas station normal operation
Gas Station Contaminants
The usual contaminants released into the environment from gas stations are represented by the stored and sold petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel. These are complex mixtures of volatile organic compounds (mainly hydrocarbons) and a series of additives which are blended with petroleum distillates to improve the quality of the final products and their usability. While there are hundreds of individual compounds associated with gasoline and diesel fuel (many of which are not even identified), the main compounds raising pollution problems associated with gas stations are the following:
- Ethylene dichloride (EDC)
- On the positive side - currently, better equipment and improved operation practices along with improved awareness of various pollution risks allow a more optimistic view of gas stations as integral part of urban environments with fewer pollution risks. Additionally, gas station pollution penalties and fines exist and are evolving, ensuring overall considerably fewer spills.
- On the negative side - almost a century of operation (of some stations) left a legacy of petroleum pollution (of soil and groundwater) that is found through current time and may extend to a few blocks away from the station. Additionally, the current economic difficulties seem to affect the implementation enforcement of some environmental-safe measures at gas stations, and consequently, gas stations are repeatedly cited for air pollution. There are now close to 170,000 fuel retailers (gas stations) at this moment in the U.S. alone. According to USEIA, 143.37 billion gallons were pumped in the U.S. in 2016, the largest gasoline consumption ever.