City to get rid of gas

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November 26, 2002 // UPDATED 1:33 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Robyn Repya
Robyn Repya

City-mandated technology could keep thousands of gallons of fuel out of Minneapolis air.

Ward 11 City Councilmember Scott Benson has introduced an ordinance that would require all gas stations to purchase and implement stage-one vapor recovery systems by Jan. 1 2007. The system is intended to reduce the toxins and improve air quality and keeping ozone levels down throughout Minneapolis.

Jon Dybvig, Councilmember Benson's aid, said the vapor recovery system works to trap gas fumes -- released by tanker trucks when they deliver gas to station pumps -- and put the fumes back in the truck.

Dybvig said SuperAmerica, Holiday and Amoco stations have already voluntarily complied and are using the system, which is already helping.

Dybvig said the system is commonplace in most other major metropolitan areas, but hasn't been adapted formally in Minneapolis because city air was deemed acceptable by government agencies. He said because the air in Minneapolis has gotten worse in the past few years, this is the most cost-effective preventative measure. "You get a lot of bang for your buck," he said.

For example: Dybvig said Super America began using vapor recovery systems at 100 stations in the metro area and discovered that 500 gallons of gas were recovered daily. "Normally, people would be breathing that," he said "A lot of people don't realize how much vapor is released every day."

John Hensel, principal engineer for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said 40 percent of metro area stations use the device, although he's hoping for 85 percent. "We're recovering about 15,000 gallons per day in the metro that would otherwise have gone into the environment," he said.

Hensel said because the city has seen some of their highest ozone levels in the past few summers, it is using this system as a preventative measure to keep the air cleaner than the MPCA's minimum standards.

Dybvig said systems cost $1,000 for the equipment, but could climb to $10,000 if the station owner has to rip up concrete to get to the underground tankers.

Hensel said the consumer shouldn't notice higher prices. "It's a fraction of a cent to be passed along to the consumer," he said.

The City Council will vote the vapor recovery motion Friday, Dec. 13. For more information contact Councilmember Benson's office at 673-2211.