‘Safer’ fuel tanks coming to city airport on 61 South

Published 12:33 pm Friday, October 8, 2010

Environment-friendly fuel tanks will replace 40-year-old tanks at the Vicksburg Municipal Airport thanks to a federal grant for airport improvement.

Airport manager Curt Follmer said the Mississippi Department of Transportation had awarded the airport a $338,024 multi-modal grant that will be used to install a new fuel farm that meets new environmental standards.

“The old fuel farm, although functional, is very old,” he said. “It doesn’t meet current environmental standards. It’s a liability really.”

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He said the project is estimated to cost about $367,660, and the $29,636 difference will be covered under the airport’s budget.

The new fuel farm, which can hold up to 12,000 gallons of AVGas, or aviation gas, and jet fuel, will be at the south end of the tarmac, farther than the current tanks from the terminal where renovations are nearing completion.

The tanks will have double walls and a containment area to catch leaks, unlike the tanks in place.

“Also, the piping doesn’t meet today’s environment standards,” Follmer added.

In addition to complying with new standards, the new tanks will have a self-service component.

“The AVGas is high on the wanted list of recreational pilots,” airport advisory board member Jay Kilroy said, “because when they fly into a small airport on a Sunday or Saturday, they don’t have to wait for someone to come out, and then pay an after-hours fee. They just swipe their credit card just like at the gas station.”

Kilroy believes this element will increase pilot stopovers at the airport west of U.S. 61 South, resulting in a slight increase in fuel revenue.

“This is our fourth time applying for the money for the fuel farm and the goal had always been to get the self-serve,” he said.

The project is in the preliminary engineering phase, and construction will begin as early as January with an estimated two to three months for completion, Follmer said.

The outdated tanks will be shut down, salvaged and bid out for sale. Meanwhile, the airport is seeing progress toward the completion of a new firehouse and the renovation of the terminal.

“The firehouse, probably, will be complete this month, if not, next month,” Follmer said, adding he is looking into using the former as a storage unit for maintenance and garden equipment, which is currently stored in the hangars.

City of Vicksburg Building Maintenance Director Sammy Rainey said work in the terminal also is nearing completion.

“We’d like for this to be done by mid-November,” he said.