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"Good Sanitatian" Retrieves Gas Barrel
Posted: 07/05/2012
SHENANDOAH – An angler sees the problem Thursday morning, June 28, a 200- or 300-gallon gas barrel stranded in the mud flats on the East Nishnabotna River bank.

He calls Deb Howe, the DNR conservation officer for Page and Montgomery counties. Howe calls the DNR’s Atlantic field office. And by that afternoon, Ryan Young meets the Page County Emergency Management Coordinator and drives to the bridge crossing one mile northwest of Shenandoah.

Sure enough. It’s a large gas tank stuck in the mud along the river. Fortunately, the lid is off, so there’s no likelihood of a pressure buildup and explosion. There’s no sign of leakage and no visible sheen or odor, which is good for the river and its fish.

Young calls the DNR’s Emergency Response Unit and Rodney Tucker checks for resources to pull the tank out of the river’s bank. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not have funding for retrieval because there’s no imminent environmental risk.

Tucker says DNR could use the state’s Hazardous Waste Remedial fund, but it would cost about $2,000 to remove the barrel.

Young takes the news resignedly, but on a whim he stops by Shenandoah Sanitation Inc., a private sanitation business, on his way out of town. Owners Jerry and Vicki Scharp haul garbage, run an incinerator for the city and do some metal recycling.

“We have a long relationship with the DNR,” said Jerry Scharp. “I knew it was an environmental hazard and it needed to be removed.”

Scharp used an end loader and some chains to pull the tank out on Friday. “We checked it to make sure there were no liquids inside, smashed it and sent it out for recycling.” His actions saved state government some money and did the right thing for the river and its inhabitants.

“Thank you Shenandoah Sanitation,” Young said.