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EPA REACHES AGREEMENTS WITH 14 TANK OWNERS

Release Date: 7/9/2001
Contact Information: Mike Ardito, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-2328

     SAN FRANCISCO- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced agreements last week with owners and operators of 12 gas stations, a hospital fuel tank and an emergency generator fuel tank in American Samoa to pay $250 fines within 30 days and have 6-12 months to comply with federal underground storage tank laws.

    With the agreements in place, the owners/operators avoided penalties of up to $11,000 per day, per tank, for each violation. The tanks must be in compliance within six months or the owners/operators will have to pay an additional, stipulated penalty.  If the underground storage tanks are not in compliance within 12 months, the owners/operators will be required to pay another stipulated penalty plus face closure temporarily or permanently.
 
     Tank inspections conducted in January 2001 at 18 facilities by the EPA and the American Samoa EPA uncovered major violations at 17 facilities, including: tanks lacking required release detection equipment; facilities lacking insurance to protect against spills and leaks; and tanks that failed to meet 1998 upgrade standards.  During inspections the EPA warned fuel tank owners and operators they could face stiff penalties if they did not comply with federal law.  Owners of two tanks, which inspectors discovered were leaking, opted to remove the tanks and clean up the surrounding area with oversight from the American Samoa EPA.

   AThe purpose of the incentive-based agreement is to bring underground storage tanks into compliance as quickly as possible without putting the stations out of business,@ said Norwood Scott, EPA underground storage tank inspector for the Pacific Southwest.  AWithin the next 12 months we hope to have every regulated underground storage tank in American Samoa equipped to comply with leak detection and 1998 upgrade standards.@

     Leak detection, required by December 1993, is critical for underground fuel storage tanks because unseen leaks can pollute underground water supplies. A hole the size of a pin can release 400 gallons of fuel in a year's time, enough to foul millions of gallons of fresh water.

     Groundwater protection is vital for islands, like American Samoa, that rely on groundwater as a drinking water source. All regulated underground storage tanks were required by law to have spill and overfill equipment, and corrosion protection in place by December 22, 1998.

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