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EPA Action Leads to Compliance with Federal Underground Tank Regulations at McGuire AFB

Release Date: 11/08/2006
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov

(New York, NY) McGuire Air Force Base in New Hanover Township, New Jersey is complying with measures required by federal law to prevent leaks of underground storage tank (UST) systems at the base, thanks to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Once EPA identified deficiencies in UST compliance during an inspection in 2002, McGuire AFB started fixing the problems. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. Air Force, New Jersey Air National Guard and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service will also pay a penalty of $115,000 for the violations. The military installed proper corrosion protection, overfill protection and leak detection equipment, and have improved their annual testing and record-keeping at the 20 federally-regulated UST systems it uses to store fuel for vehicles at the base.

“Leaks of petroleum underground can spread very quickly to sully the groundwater and the soil,” EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. “It’s much easier to prevent leaks before they happen. The armed services protect our country and they must also do their part to protect our environment.”

Underground storage tanks have historically been the nation’s number-one source of groundwater contamination, with over 30,000 leaks and spills from tanks reported annually. 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. Petroleum releases can be a source of contamination of drinking water from groundwater sources, making them unsafe or unpleasant to drink. Releases can also result in fire and explosion hazards and produce short and long-term health effects.

The EPA regulations require owners and operators to maintain underground storage tanks to avoid releases into the environment. In addition, the regulations require owners and operators to clean up leaks 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/

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