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EPA Charges Gas Station Tanks in Christiansted Were Mismanaged; Agency Seeking $24,812 Penalty

Release Date: 10/12/1999
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(#99161) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has charged Armstrong Motors, Inc., the owner and operator of four gasoline underground storage tanks (USTs) at Budget Gas Station at 6-9 Estate Golden Rock in Christiansted, St. Croix, with three counts of tank mismanagement. EPA is seeking $24,812 penalty for the infractions.

The agency charged Armstrong Motors with the environmental violations after it inspected the gas station in April 1998 and after subsequent correspondence with the company. EPA asserts that Armstrong Motors did not monitor for leaks of underground piping leading from the USTs to gas pumps from April through October 1998, failed to provide a proper method to check that the tanks themselves were not leaking gasoline from April through December 1998, and did not keep records of any tightness tests of UST piping for 1997. These charges all constitute violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which was passed in 1976 and is the law that governs UST management.

"Underground storage tanks are the number-one source of groundwater contamination in the United States," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Regional Administrator. "All USTs – whether they be at gas stations, government facilities or industrial complexes – must be managed according to EPA’s regulations to ensure that gasoline and other substances don’t leak out into the environment. This company’s mismanagement of its tanks is troubling, particularly given the Virgin Islands’ fragile ecosystems."

Underground storage tanks, which can range in capacity from a few hundred to 50,000 or more gallons, are regulated by EPA under RCRA. They are used to store gasoline, heating oil and other fuels, waste oil and hazardous substances at gas stations, marinas, depots, government facilities and large industrial sites.

Over 30,000 leaks and spills from tanks are reported annually nationwide. A spill of one gallon of gasoline can render one million gallons of water undrinkable. Leaks from USTs can also contaminate the soil around the tanks, and can cause unhealthy gasoline vapors to settle into the basements of private homes and apartment buildings. Since USTs are buried several feet underground, spills and releases into the soil and into the groundwater table are often invisible to people standing at ground level. To insure that releases are quickly detected, RCRA requires all owners and operators to provide a method of leak detection for each UST that can identify releases from any portion of the tank and connected underground piping. RCRA also requires owners and operators to keep thorough records of leak detection activities and of any work done on the tanks.

For more information contact:

Nina Habib Spencer, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3670 FAX: 212-637-4445 E-Mail: habib.nina@epamail.epa.gov