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Naval Base Kitsap fails to properly monitor fuel tanks near Puget Sound for leaks

Release Date: 01/17/2012
Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov Anne Christopher, EPA Ground Water Unit, 206-553-8293, christopher.anne@epa.gov

Navy corrects violations and settles with EPA for nearly $161,000

(Seattle—Jan. 17, 2012) Naval Base Kitsap Bangor failed to properly monitor pipes and underground fuel storage tanks for leaks on its property in Silverdale, Washington in violation of federal laws that protect groundwater, according to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Navy will pay nearly $161,000 in fines.

“EPA is working hard to restore Puget Sound and fuel leaks near the shoreline could seriously set us back,” said Peter Contreras, Manager of the Ground Water Unit in EPA’s Seattle office. “Nearby communities also rely on groundwater for drinking water, so preventing releases protects both Puget Sound and public health.”

The violations occurred between 2006 and 2010. The holding capacity of the inspected tanks ranges between 170 gallons and 45,000 gallons.

The Navy has 53 underground storage tanks on the base it uses for storing diesel, used oil and gasoline. EPA inspectors identified 37 violations including failure to properly monitor the tanks and pipes for leaks; failure to have the proper leak detection equipment installed for the pipes; and failure to provide an adequate alarm system to prevent delivery drivers from overfilling the tanks.

Leaks from underground storage tanks allow toxic fumes and vapors to escape and collect in areas such as parking garages or basements where they can cause explosion or respiratory illness. Toxic contaminants can also leak into groundwater sources that people depend on for drinking water. Regularly monitoring tanks and pipes minimizes contamination risks.

To detect leaks quickly, underground storage tanks must be monitored monthly and the pipes must be equipped with a leak detector and tested annually or monitored monthly. The Navy had the appropriate monitoring equipment in place at most of the sites, but failed to check the monitors on a monthly basis and document that the tanks and pipes were not leaking.

Since the 2010 EPA inspection of the base, the Navy has corrected the violations. The Navy has agreed to provide EPA with documentation showing it is in compliance with proper monitoring.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and requires owners of underground storage tanks to regularly monitor their tank systems for leaks.

For more information on underground storage tanks, visit http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/WATER.NSF/UST/UST+LUST+home