Fuel available at Jefferson County International Airport after three-day shutdown

Port looking at alternative to replace in-ground tank

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County International Airport has reopened its fueling services after a clerical error caused a three-day shutdown.

Fuel was delivered and the service was restored Wednesday, said Jim Pivarnik, executive director for the Port of Port Townsend, which operates the airport.

Pilots had not been able to pump fuel since Sunday, but the runway and all other airport services were unaffected, Pivarnik said.

Fuel services were shut down because the port had been notified by its insurance carrier that it could no longer insure the aging in-ground tank. Pivarnik initially warned pilots about the possibility during a public meeting at the airport Aug. 8.

The state Department of Ecology provided a report to the port’s insurance company that showed the tank was installed in 1971, but port records show it was actually 1981, Pivarnik said.

“The ‘71 tripped the cord, and our insurance company said it’s so old that you need to do something here,” he said.

Port officials provided meeting minutes and other records to correct the error, Pivarnik said.

“We agree the tank needs replacing, but we can’t do that in 30 days,” he said.

“We have one year, and they may give us more. They may give us 10 years since that’s how far off the records were, but I’m not going to bet on that. I’m going to be proactive.”

The port renewed its insurance on Monday and placed a fuel order later that day. It took two days to deliver, which was within standard operating procedure, Pivarnik said.

He added he’s working with another government agency that may have an alternative with above-ground, double-walled tanks, newer technology that could last 30 years.

That agency first has to determine if it has future use for the tanks, something its elected officials may vote on next week, Pivarnik said.

The tanks were fully funded by the state Department of Transportation’s aviation program, he said.

“They said, ‘We can’t sell them to you, but we may be able to do an intergovernmental transfer,’ ” Pivarnik said.

If successful, Pivarnik said it would save the port about $150,000.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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