LAWTON, OK (KSWO) A surprise discovery under the site of the future Lawton Public Safety Facility. What city officials thought was a small underground fuel storage tank turned out to be a 45-foot long tank car. Something you would find on a railroad track, not buried in the ground.
First, they have to drain the tank of the old diesel fuel that was found inside then they will use a crane to haul it out of the ground. Decades ago the Public Safety Facility land used to be a switching yard for Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.
"We know that there are old railroad ties. We know that there are old rail still on the site. We know there were a lot of concrete structure on the site," Lawton's Director of Engineering George Hennessee said. "So when we did that environmental assessment we did discover that tank, but at that time we didn't understand the extent of it."
Hennessee said instead of removing an 8 by 10 foot tank as expected they found an 8 by 45 foot tank car. Since the railroad company forfeited that land, and went bankrupt nearly 40 years ago, Hennessee said they can only speculate as to why the tank was there in the first place.
"We anticipated it was just a fill station for an engine," Hennessee said. "Because it was a rail yard, it could've been for the rail yard equipment."
Hennessee said to remove the tank, it'll cost $60,000 to $66,000 that will come from 2015 Sales Tax Extension. That's also the funding source for the 42-million-dollar contract to build the Public Safety Facility.
City Councilman Caleb Davis, who voted against the contract, said he doesn't want to see unexpected discoveries during the facilities' construction.
"It's absolutely ridiculous that we're spending right off the bat $66,000 already. And we haven't really for all practical purposes we haven't even gotten started yet," Davis said.
While the city is just starting the project, Hennessee said the tank removal shouldn't affect the construction timeline. They plan to have the tank emptied and lifted out by the end of this week, and by December there will be a security fence set up around the site
The completion date is still set for Fall of 2019.