Out of order signs pop up at Vermont gas pumps

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BURLINGTON, Vt. Some businesses in Vermont have stopped selling gasoline as they decide whether to replace their underground tanks.

As of January first, 26 Vermont facilities still needed to replace 61 single-walled tanks as part of a 2013 law.

Replacing the tanks could cost between $100,000 to $200,000 thousand dollars to replace tanks that work perfectly fine.

Charlie Handy's family has owned Handy's Service station in Burlington for almost 50 years.

"Now I'm trying to figure out if it's worth it to do the tanks. Or if it's not worth it for me to do the tanks," Handy said.

The business has single- walled underground gas tanks.

Handy has to switch them out with double- walled tanks if they want to remove the out of order bags.

The Department of Environmental Conservation said it's a safety issue. Gas in single walled tanks is more likely to leak into the soil or ground water.

"Vapors have built up in basements and they've actually exploded. There was an exploding sewer line in upstate New York that happened a few years ago," Underground Storage Tank Program coordinator Ted Unkles said.

In double walled tanks, any gas leakage would be caught in the space between the two layers.

Handy said it's been difficult to get the pumps replaced.

With so many businesses trying to make the switch, he said there's been a back-log. And you can't dig to replace tanks in the Winter.

Handy can only sell diesel fuel because those tanks are double-walled.

He said not selling gas hurts --even the service side of the business.

"You know, people they come in. They buy gas. They do service at the same place. Now I don't have that privileged anymore," Handy said.

Businesses have had five years to plan for the tank switch. But Handy said his family is still trying to figure out if it's the right financial move for them.

"You average profit five cents a gallon. So you figure that takes probably ten years to replace it," Handy said.

The DEC could not say how many locations have stopped selling gas because of the rule.

The agency says it can't wait for single-walled tanks to naturally age out before replacing them.

Safety check equipment sometimes misses pin- sized holes in tanks that can lead to disasters.