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U.S. EPA WARNS FUEL TANK OWNERS OF 1998 DEADLINE; CITES EIGHT FOR LEAK DETECTION VIOLATIONS

Release Date: 11/21/1997
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that owners and operators of  underground fuel storage tanks have only 13 months to upgrade their tanks to meet next year's deadline to comply with national leak detection standards.  U.S. EPA also cited 8 fuel tank facilities in Hawaii a total of $2,000 for violating existing underground tank leak prevention rules under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  The citations were the result of inspections conducted jointly by U.S. EPA and the Hawaii Department of Health in Hawaii (HDOH) during late October and early November.

     "All owners of underground fuel storage tanks should be aware that they have just 13 months left to upgrade or replace their tanks," said Julie Anderson, director of the waste management division for U.S. EPA's western regional office.  "It can take months to line up a qualified contractor and complete the work, so tank owners should start planning now to meet the December 22, 1998 deadline.  These upgrades are crucial to preventing groundwater and soil contamination caused by leaking underground tanks."

     The new leak prevention standards have already been in effect for new underground fuel tanks installed since 1988.  Owners of older tanks, however, were given until the end of 1998 to upgrade or close their tanks.   In the interim, U.S. EPA and HDOH are enforcing existing leak detection standards by inspecting underground fuel tanks and issuing citations.

     Two of the eight facilities cited were cited for major violations. The two facilities cited
for major violations are: Suda Construction (Wailuku), and Foremost Dairies (Honolulu).  The violations recorded at the eight facilities included failing to permanently close or upgrade an unused tank, failing to test tanks and fuel lines for leaks, and failing to comply with financial responsibility requirements.

     The U.S. EPA's underground storage tank (UST) field citation program is designed to quickly bring facilities owned or operated as small businesses into compliance with federal UST regulations. The citations impose penalties which generally range from $50 to $300 per violation, and require owners and operators to take quick measures to comply.  The facilities have thirty days to come into compliance, submit requested documentation, and pay the settlement amount. If they do not, they will be subject to a more formal enforcement action, which carries much stiffer penalties of up to $11,000 per day per violation.

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