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Federal Judge Hits Gas Station Owner on St. Croix With $1 Million Judgement For Violating EPA's Underground Storage Tank Rules

Release Date: 06/26/1998
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(#98075) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The U.S. District Court of the Virgin Islands issued a $1,063,350 judgement earlier this month against a recalcitrant operator of two gas stations on St. Croix for violating underground storage tank (UST) regulations. The judgement by Federal Judge Raymond Finch is against Fahri Mustafa, who operates service stations called The Golden Cow in Christiansted and Frankie's in Frederiksted. The case grew out of a complaint filed in May 1995 by the U.S.Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It sought corrections of continuing UST violations first cited in EPA's 1993 Administrative Complaint against Mr. Mustafa, and full payment of the penalties assessed in that matter. The federal government also sought injunctive relief for new violations and civil penalties for each day of violation.

"Because underground storage tanks pose potential risks to public health, it is important that owners follow the regulations. If they neglect the tanks, they may be poisoning their community's groundwater, surface water and possibly its drinking water," said EPA Region 2 Administrator, Jeanne M. Fox. "EPA has made every effort to help facilities understand and comply with the regulations, and we have an aggressive enforcement program against those who don't."

The judgement incorporates the collection of past due penalties under the Administrative Order, plus interest and costs; further civil penalties for continuing and additional violations, as well as injunctive relief. The violations included:

* failure to employ a method of release detection;

* failure to close out-of-service underground storage tanks;

* failure to report and investigate suspected releases;

* failure to conduct testing following repairs to an UST system; and

* failure to respond to an information request letter.

Under federal law, owners and operators have until December 22, 1998 to upgrade or remove their underground storage tanks. They will have had ten years to comply with the regulations.


For more information contact:
Richard Cahill, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3666 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: cahill.richard@epamail.epa.gov