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EPA Reaches Settlement with USDA for Underground Storage Tank Violations in Puerto Rico

Release Date: 08/07/2009
Contact Information: Sophia Kelley (212) 637-3670, kelley.jessicasophia@epa.gov; Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) In order to help ensure that underground tanks used for storing diesel fuel, oil and gasoline are properly managed in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding safety violations. According to the settlement, USDA will pay $30,000 in penalties and is required to comply with federal underground storage tank requirements.

“We are pleased that the USDA has agreed to pay penalties and has taken steps to rectify the underground storage tank safety violations,” George Pavlou, EPA Acting Regional Administrator said. “It is vital to the health of our environment that underground storage tanks are safely maintained and we will continue to monitor them and enforce all regulations.”

USDA’s Tropical Agriculture Research Stations in Mayaguez and Isabela, Puerto Rico were cited for failure to provide corrosion protection for steel piping in contact with the ground, failure to conduct release detection and failure to perform line tightness tests for the piping. The USDA agreed to pay civil penalties and removed the gasoline and diesel from the tanks while moving forward with plans to remove the systems at both the Mayaguez and Isabela facilities.

Underground storage tank systems usually store fuels such as gasoline, diesel or oil. About 617,000 systems exist nationwide, and they can harm the environment and human health if their contents spill or leak. Systems must meet federal release detection requirements and must have corrosion protection, spill and overflow equipment. Underground storage tanks that cannot meet these regulations are required to be closed permanently.

For more information about underground storage tanks, visit http://www.epa.gov/oust/.
For more information about Puerto Rico, go to http://www.epa.gov/region02/cepd/prlink.htm.

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