GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is responsible for monitoring all of our state’s underground fuel tanks, and sometimes they have to deal with big problems.

Right now, TDEC is nearing the end of a $1.3 million dollar clean-up around Gallatin’s Town Creek Greenway.

In 2018, Terry Sague was biking through the area and his ride was disrupted by an unpleasant stench.

“It smelled like kind of a gas-oil mixture is what it smelled like. I don’t know if it was propane or something, but it was not a pleasant odor at all,” Sague said.

Turns out it was petroleum leaking from underground tanks.

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Underground Storage Tank Director Stan Boyd said they found multiple sources of pollution from nearby gas stations and other businesses and got to work.

“Petroleum was migrating through the water, through the groundwater, and entering the creek,” Boyd said.

With more than 16,000 underground storage tanks in the state, Boyd says TDEC is busy year-round.

“We have to inspect them all at least once every three years. We regulate them all. So yes, releases do occur. We’ll have maybe 150-200 a year. Most of them very small,” Boyd said.

According to Boyd, typical projects involve repairing a simple line or removing some soil, but the Gallatin Greenway is much more complex.

“A project like this, so far, the state of Tennessee has invested $1.3 million dollars in it,” Boyd said.

Between drilling, constructing water monitoring wells, and injecting carbon into the ground to reduce pollution, Boyd said the smell is finally starting to fade.

“There was a bunch of people over here working on it for a long time. They would come in off the side street here and work and work. Then finally one day it was gone, they were gone, and the smell was gone,” Sague said.

Boyd says TDEC predicts they have about another year of work to get the creek and greenway completely cleaned up.

To submit an environmental or water quality complaint to TDEC you can call 888-891-8332.

Citizens may also submit letters by mail to:

Division of Water Resources
William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 11th Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243