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EPA orders gas stations to close underground injection wells to protect drinking water sources on Yakama Reservation

Release Date: 05/15/2013
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, EPA Region 10 Public Affairs, 206-553-6689, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

(Seattle – May 15, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, has ordered two gas stations to close their underground injection wells to protect drinking water on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington. In separate settlements, the gas stations in Wapato and White Swan will pay $13,140 and $11,991 in federal penalties for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Da Stor at Lillie’s Corner gas station, in Wapato, operates two underground injection wells. Cougar Den gas station in White Swan operates one underground injection well. The injection wells dispose of untreated fluids collected through open drains on the stations’ fueling pads. The wells may contain contaminants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, cadmium, chromium, and lead that could endanger underground drinking water sources.

EPA ordered Cougar Den and Da Stor to properly close their injection wells by June 30 and July 31, 2013, respectively. Da Stor must also test the on-site public water system to make sure the water still meets federal drinking water standards. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for the communities of Wapato and White Swan.

In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, giving EPA the authority to control underground injection wells in order to protect public health by preventing contamination of underground sources of drinking water. EPA’s Underground Injection Control Program regulates construction, operation, permitting, and closure of underground injection wells that place fluids underground for storage or disposal.

More about EPA’s Underground Injection Control Program: http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/

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