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EPA Issues Complaint and Compliance Order Against Virgin Petroleum of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; $82,087 Penalty Assessed on Underground Storage Tank Violations

Release Date: 10/31/2002
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(#02110a) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a civil complaint and order to comply with federal underground storage tank regulations to Virgin Petroleum, Inc. and six affiliated companies in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Virgin Petroleum and its president, Mr. Yusef I. (Joe) Jaber, violated regulations that require owners and operators of underground storage tanks to have systems to detect leaks, properly close tanks when not in use, respond to EPA’s requests for information, and have sufficient insurance to provide for a clean up in the event of a leak.

“EPA enforces these underground storage tank regulations to protect the health of the residents of St. Croix and the integrity of the island’s sensitive ecosystems.” said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. “When underground storage tanks leak oil or gasoline, they can contaminate drinking water supplies and seriously degrade the environment.”

In addition to issuing the complaint for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulations, EPA ordered Virgin Petroleum to perform required leak detection on its tanks and acquire appropriate insurance to pay for any future clean ups should there be leaks.

Virgin Petroleum and Mr. Jaber must pay the penalty and fully comply with the regulations or request a hearing to dispute the EPA findings and requirements. The facilities with the violations are operated by Virgin Petroleum under seven corporate names, Virgin Petroleum, Inc. and Virgin Petroleum: - Princess, Inc., - Diamond, Inc., - Two Brothers, Inc., -Peter’s Rest, Inc., - Boetzberg, Inc., and - Glynn, Inc.

Leaking underground tanks pose a threat to ground water and soil. Underground storage tanks range in capacity from a few hundred to 50,000 or more gallons, and are used to store gasoline, diesel, heating oil and other fuels, waste oil and hazardous substances at gas stations, marinas, government facilities and large industrial sites. Leaks from tanks often contaminate the soil and ground water around the tanks, and the water in wells within the area of contamination. The leaks can also cause unhealthy gasoline vapors to settle into the basements of homes. Petroleum releases can contaminate water, making it unsafe or unpleasant to drink. Releases can also result in fire and explosion hazards and produce short and long-term health effects.

Underground storage tanks have historically been the nation’s number-one source of ground water contamination, with over 30,000 leaks and spills from tanks reported annually. EPA and states’ underground storage tank regulations were put in place to prevent releases of petroleum, and, if a release does occur, to ensure that it is addressed immediately.

The EPA regulations require owners and operators to maintain underground storage tanks in compliance with all applicable regulation to avoid releases into the environment. In addition, the regulations require owners and operators to clean up contaminated sites, in order to restore and protect groundwater resources, and provide a safe environment for those who live or work around these sites.

Information about EPA’s underground storage tank program can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oust/