New Milford schools approve more money to replace oil tank
NEW MILFORD — The school board has authorized up to another $70,000 to remove and replace the oil tank at Hill and Plain Elementary School.
Interim Superintendent Stephen Tracy said the additional money is needed because workers discovered the school’s electrical transformer and switchbox were on top of the tank.
Disturbing the box by removing the tank would have caused the school to shut down for two weeks so officials decided to empty it, seal it off and abandon it in place. Water is located about eight feet underground, so a new underground oil tank couldn’t be installed. Instead, officials have decided to switch to an above ground tank, which tends to be more expensive.
“Fortunately the digging was done carefully, the problem was discovered and we’re able to get it done with no disruption to the school,” Tracy said.
In May, the school board approved ETT Environmental Services to replace the underground oil tank at Hill and Plain for $92,000. The money for the project will come from the school’s capital reserve.
Hill and Plain is the first of the three school tanks to be replaced. The other two — Sarah Noble Intermediate School and the Lillis administration building— are being considered with the town’s three tanks. Hill and Plain is the only tank that solely heats the building and so is cold-weather dependent.
“We want to prepare our building properly for the heating season,” said school board Chairman David Lawson.
Part of the $70,000 can be used to cover a temporary oil system if needed, Tracy said.
The work is expected to be done by mid-November, he said.
School officials discovered they needed to replace the three 10,000-gallon fuel tanks last fall after pulling permits to add check valves.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection requires fuel tanks be replaced when they reach 30 years old — a deadline established by the manufacturers and enforced by the state. If a tank is left in the ground after this deadline, the owner is charged a $10,000 fine for each tank and a daily fine until it is removed.
To meet this stipulation, New Milford must complete the work this calendar year.
Oil tanks were installed at Sarah Noble and Hill and Plain in 1989. It’s unknown when the tank was installed at the Lillis Building, but it’s estimated to be at least 25 years old.
The tank for Sarah Noble doesn’t have to be done before it gets cold because the building is heated with natural gas and the fuel tank is required more to power the generator, which is used if the town needs an emergency shelter.