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2 huge jet fuel tanks have stood in Morro Bay for decades. Now they’re being destroyed

Two massive decommissioned jet fuel tanks used by the U.S. Navy for decades are being demolished in Morro Bay, according to city officials.

Morro 94 LLC, which owns a 10-acre parcel at 3300 Panorama Drive, has been permitted to remove tanks, piping, pump equipment, tank foundations and concrete from the property near Yerba Buena Street at the northern end of Morro Bay.

Santa Maria-based construction company Bedford Enterprises, Inc., started the demolition work on Oct. 16, said Oliver Ries, of Bedford.

Michael Tiffany of Analytical Consulting Group is conducting environmental compliance on the project for the city.

Demolition will continue through most of November, likely until around Thanksgiving, Tiffany said.

The tanks served as storage for fuel provided by the Estero Bay Defense Fuel Support Point, set up by the Navy in the early 1960s with an offshore tanker mooring point that connected piping to the Panorama Drive site, according to a Morro Bay city staff report dated June 19.

From the Panorama Drive parcel, a 98-mile long, six-inch-wide pipe supplied fuel to the Lemoore Naval Air Station, 33 miles south of Fresno, the staff report said.

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The facility closed in 1991, according to the staff report.

In 1992, the offshore mooring and piping under the ocean were removed and the tanks and pipes between Morro Bay and Lemoore were cleared of fuel, the staff report said.

The staff report noted that hydrocarbons and benzene were initially identified in the early 1990s in soil and groundwater samples but since have dissolved to levels that are considered “stable” and “negligible.”

Nancy Hubbard, the city’s contract planner, told The Tribune in a phone conversation that the site has been cleared for any unsafe conditions in regards to pollutants. Continued testing is taking place during the demolition, she said.

In addition to the Morro Bay permit, Hubbard said, Morro 94 LLC has a permit for the demolition with San Luis Obispo County’s Environmental Health Services Division.

MBFuelTanks002
The city of Morro Bay is overseeing the demolition of two jet fuel tanks at 3300 Panorama Drive. The demolition will continue through November. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

“It would require environmental study if the property were to be developed, though I’m not sure what specifically that would entail,” Hubbard said. “It is being cleaned to residential standards. ... Several agencies have conducted (environmental impact) testing since it was decommissioned, and it’s meeting all of the requirements.”

Scot Graham, Morro Bay community development director, said Morro 94 LLC hasn’t yet submitted an application for development.

Tiffany said pipes have been cleaned and checked for fuel residue, and prevailing winds have kept dust away from the homes in nearby neighborhoods.

“The tanks are being removing under a permit for the city of Morro Bay,” Tiffany said. “I have been monitoring to make sure the noise and the dust within limits. There is a whole set of mitigation plans for the effects and hazards submitted to the city.”

Tiffany said the demolition came after planning commission meetings involving neighbors and stakeholders.

A 24-hour hotline — 805-676-0187 — has been set up to field public questions about the demolition.

“We’ve had very few calls,” Tiffany said. “Mostly, neighbors have walked by and gathered at the fence to watch.”

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