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EPA APPROVES CLEANUP PLAN FOR CONTAMINATION AT TUBA CITY THRIFTWAY STATION

Release Date: 12/2/1999
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

     New Round Of Inspections Cites Violations At Thriftway, Sun West Stations

     San Francisco -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a pilot plan to begin cleanup of the underground gasoline plume originating from the Tuba City Thriftway and SunWest (also known as Navajo Trails and Super Fuels) gas stations.  The cleanup on the Thriftway leasehold is expected to start by late February.  In addition, EPA directed the owners of the SunWest and Thriftway facilities to come up with a cleanup plan for a second area near the existing evaporation ponds on the south side of Highway 160.  

     EPA and tribal inspectors also investigated four nearby gas stations in November and found poor leak monitoring practices, inadequate leak detection record keeping, and other violations of the federal underground tank rules.  The violations were found as the result of a field inspection conducted jointly with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency (NNEPA) and the Hopi Tribal Environmental Protection Office.  

     In response to the violations found at the SunWest station, the owner conducted tightness tests on the tanks and piping which confirmed that they are not leaking.  The owner also conducted a corrosion protection test on the steel tanks showing that the system is functioning properly.  The owner must still demonstrate the financial resources to pay for cleanup of any future leaks and to formally notify EPA and NNEPA of current tank system operations.  EPA is working with the facility to ensure that a new and more appropriate leak detection system is installed and that on- site personnel are adequately trained to operate the equipment.

    The EPA also cited two Thriftway facilities for leak prevention violations due to poor monitoring practices and record keeping.  The Thriftway facilities at Gap Trading Post and Tuba City were fined a total of $1,800.  All three underground storage tank facilities must meet EPA's deadline of December 11 to demonstrate compliance with the federal underground storage tank rules or face further enforcement action.

     In 1996 EPA ordered the Tuba City SunWest and Thriftway facilities to investigate  underground contamination from leaking fuel tanks and pipes.  Since that time, over 80 monitoring wells have been installed to identify the boundaries of an underground petroleum plume and determine if there is groundwater contamination beyond the two facilities' leaseholds.  While the plume has migrated a short distance off the leaseholds, it does not pose a threat to any drinking water sources in the Tuba City/Moenkopi area.  The plume is still far from the Upper and Lower Village's drinking water sources.  Cleanup measures are expected to remove the contamination long before it threatens these water supplies.

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