Leaked fuel is being recovered from under the ground at the site of a former Shell filling station, it has been confirmed.

The Abbots Park Service Station in Liverpool Road, Chester, closed in late 2011 to allow underground investigations to be carried out because of a ‘a potential contamination problem’ with questions raised around the condition of the original underground fuel installation ‘in terms of age and suitability’.

Previously, The Chronicle reported that workers had drilled 30m into the bedrock prior to installing wells so the affected area could be ‘flushed out’ over several months.

Now a ground water remediation system has begun operating under licence from the Environment Agency.

A Shell spokesman said: “A remediation plan for the Abbots Park site, developed by Shell in consultation with the Environment Agency (EA), has now been approved by the EA.

“Work is beginning to recover fuel in the ground within the affected area of the site. The site will be returned to the landlord when Shell’s lease expires in 2015.”

It is a condition that Shell returns the site as an active filling station upon surrender of the lease meaning a new forecourt area, underground tanks, steel-framed canopy and surfacing will eventually be erected.

Shell says a new fuel storage and pipeline system will offer a better lifespan and be double skinned to offer improved protection from leakage and include an in-built monitoring system for the early detection of leaks.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “After the operator reported to us that ground had become contaminated at its petrol station on Liverpool Road, we have worked with its environmental consultants to provide advice and guidance as the operator carries out work to rectify the problem.

“Currently, we have accepted a treatment system deployment form allowing them to address the contamination safely.

“The remediation scheme which is being commissioned on site is designed to address contamination in both the ground and the groundwater.

“The system has been designed to maximise the clean-up process. These systems have a good record of achieving the desired clean-up.”