Monday, November 13, 2006

3165 Our government workers' sense of humor

One day in aerobics class the instructor mentioned she had a new position with the state of Ohio and needed a researcher. "I'll do it, I'll do it," I wheezed while managing a particularly difficult lunge with a grapevine step. So began my adventure working for the Ohio Department of Aging, long before I was a senior citizen. If you have ever worked for the federal, state or local governments, you've discovered that they are staffed both by the relatives of donors to the party in power, and by some incredibly smart, dedicated and funny people who do their best for the public with a missionary zeal.

And on a slow day, the humor must bubble to the top at the office. Take for instance, the coffee break where they were tossing out names for what to call leaky storage tanks: "How about LUST, or Leaking Underground Storage Tanks," someone who doesn't want the credit suggested. Perfect. And now the newsletter is digitized and called LUST LINE. I'll betcha they get the perverts at that website!

But some storage tanks are unique. Because of EPA regulations way back in the 80s it became cheaper to abandon gas stations and buried oil tanks than to clean them up. Regulations are so strict in fact, it is almost impossible to clean up a tank for a small business owner because it can cost $125,000 to clean up a site. Not too many small businesses can afford to do that, so you'll see a lot of abandoned lots in small towns. Underneath is probably a leaky tank.

The Office of Underground Storage Tanks (OUST) is responsible for promoting the cleanup of leaking underground storage tank (LUST) sites with a program called RAGS, Cleaning Up and Reusing Abandoned Gas Station Sites.

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