Long Island Airport Triples Fuel Capacity with New Storage Complex

Author: 
Robert Nordstrom
Published in: 
July-August
2011

Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) in New York was under the gun to replace two single-wall 20,000-gallon underground fuel storage tanks by the end of 2009. The Town of Islip, which owns and operates ISP, needed a plan to keep Suffolk County comfortable by decommissioning the tanks; but it also needed to prevent a 40% decrease in the airport's fuel storage capacity.




factsfigures

Project: Fuel Farm Complex

Location: Long Island (NY) MacArthur Airport

Cost: $6 million

Funding: Southwest Airlines provided short-term financing; municipality to repay within one year of project completion via fuel flowage charges & sale of $6 million bond amortized over 10 years

Capacity: 300,000 gallons (via six 50,000-gal tanks)

Completion: October 2010

Engineering & Design: Argus Consulting

General & Mechanical Contractor: Meccon Industries

Fuel Farm Operator: Swissport

Airport Consultant: Eryou Engineering

Pump/Filtration Loading & Unloading Skids: Garsite

Tanks: Highland Tank

Oil/Water Separator & Water Treatment System: Highland Tank

Subcontractors

Civil Engineering: Ruttura & Sons

Electrical: Gordon L. Seaman

Steel Canopies: Stuart Berger Construction

Of Note: Decommissioned tanks were repurposed to store treated stormwater runoff

"Once we removed the two tanks," explains Islip deputy commissioner Eric Hofmeister, "we would (have been) left with a storage capacity of 60,000 gallons in our remaining two 30,000-gallon double-wall underground tanks. We definitely would not have enough fuel storage capacity. We wanted to have at least a five-day supply. That would bring us down to around a two-day supply."

Town officials determined that they could fund the construction of a new $6 million fuel storage complex with a 10-year bond and new flowage charges for farm users. Given the county's tight regulatory deadline, Southwest Airlines, the airport's major commercial carrier, agreed to provide short-term financing for the project, with the Town of Islip agreeing to pay the carrier back one year after the project was complete.

Kevin Wiecek, regional manager of fuel operations for Southwest, explains the airline's motivation to finance the project: "Basically, fuel storage would have been cut in half. With fuel supplies coming out of New Jersey by truck, we felt that 60,000 gallons was not enough capacity. If there were a supply disruption, it would basically shut down the airport. We didn't think that was a good scenario."

So Southwest took the lead by contracting Argus Consulting to design and coordinate construction of the new facility. With six new 50,000-gallon tanks in place, the airport would triple its total storage capacity - much to the relief of Southwest and other tenants.

Keeping Planes in the Air

One complication was immediately apparent: The airport had to keep the existing fuel farm running while the new fuel farm was built at the same location. General contractor Meccon Industries bore the brunt of the challenge.

"The work site was very small," recalls Meccon's project manager, Greg Curran. "We had to find areas to place our material storage, cranes, excavators and soil stockpiles. We used the same access roads and gates that the operating facility used, so we needed to work closely with Swissport [the fuel farm operator] to coordinate our daily operations."

Working airside and landside at an operating airport, adds Meccon vice president Paul Curran, presented additional security and operational issues.

Contractors followed a phased construction plan during the roughly one-year project to keep the existing fuel station operational. During the first phase of construction, six new 50,000-gallon single-wall UL142 Jet-A tanks were set in place, and a containment dike with new aboveground piping and a new airside loading/unloading transfer pad were constructed. Crews placed a canopy over the transfer pad to allow all-weather operations and to minimize stormwater infiltrating the containment basin. A new operations building, fuel lab and stormwater treatment building were also constructed during phase one.

During the second phase of construction, crews removed the existing landside transfer pad and replaced it with a new concrete drive lane, new canopy and new landside loading/unloading transfer pad. After testing and commissioning of the new transfer pad, the two 30,000-gallon underground tanks and associated equipment were removed.

Maintaining Security

Before the recent changes and additions, fuel delivery trucks and airport refueling vehicles had one landside position to unload and load, respectively. Refueling truck operators had to make sure their vehicles were full in the morning before the fuel transport trucks started arriving with deliveries.

Building transfer pads on both the landside and airside and making them able to receive deliveries as well as dispense fuel have considerably eased coordination and scheduling issues. It also eliminated service disruptions during pad maintenance or repairs.

"We were very adamant that we wanted to keep the fuel delivery trucks from entering secure areas of the airport," emphasizes town commissioner Teresa Rizzuto. "Under the old system, airside vehicles had to constantly go over to the landside to refuel. We have eliminated that vulnerability. It's a great design, and we are very happy with the new facility."

New Use for Old Tanks

The pair of 20,000-gallon tanks that inspired the $6 million project found an interesting second life after they were removed from fuel service. Left in ground, the tanks were cleaned, lined with epoxy, and now hold treated stormwater runoff from the fuel farm.

Although the airport is located above a drinking water aquifer, it does not have a stormwater or sanitary system for treating runoff in the new fuel complex area. As a result, an onsite system had to be designed and built to collect and treat stormwater entering the transfer pads and dike areas.





Emergency Response Ready

At 99 feet above sea level, Long Island MacArthur Airport is a critical staging site for emergency response during local catastrophic events. Located in a county surrounded by water and vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding, the airport serves as a key location to receive air shipments of supplies and distribute them to the surrounding area.

"Since Katrina, there has been a push for all the municipalities in the area to get their emergency response plans up to date," reports Islip deputy commissioner Eric Hoffmeister. "There's been a tremendous effort on the part of all levels of government here on Long Island to try to learn from what happened with Katrina. As an airport, we are an important part of any critical response effort."

A dependable and secure fuel farm is a key component to such efforts, Hoffmeister adds.

"We had no place to discharge water that might have come in contact with jet fuel," explains Dan Frank, project manager for Argus Consulting. "The design allowed us to collect the water in the containment dike, which served as the secondary containment for the above ground tanks, and a concrete containment basin at each fueling location sized to handle the largest spill that might occur in case of a rupture of a tanker truck. But we had to find a way to treat and disperse incidental stormwater that potentially came in contact with jet fuel."

To that end, collected stormwater is pumped through an aboveground oil-water separator and subsequent filtration system and into one of the refurbished tanks. When a tank is full, a sample is collected and analyzed. After samples pass county discharge requirements, water is pumped from the tank into a dry well for dispersion into the ground water system.

"The water makes a complete loop," Frank explains. "(Before dispersion,) it's basically drinking water quality."

No Need to Wait

Given the tight deadlines and constricted construction environment, Southwest Airlines purchased the tanks and fuel transfer skids before the design was complete to expedite the project. By the time the bid went out and Meccon was hired as the general contractor, the tanks and skids were ready for delivery.

"Typically, a contractor would be awarded the job, then order materials, and we'd have to wait another 16 weeks to get the tanks," Frank relates. "With this project, everything was ready to go as soon as they got the concrete containment dike poured."

Having the tanks, fuel transfer skids and piping prefabricated and tested offsite is a strategy he recommends to other airports.

"We basically shipped it to the site, plugged it in, piped it up, and felt confident that everything was going to work," Frank proudly states. "It was a real time-saver."

Subcategory: 
Fuel Operations

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