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USA: EPA Takes Legal Action Against Western New York Gas Stations to Protect Ground Water from Petroleum Contamination

"When underground tanks are not properly maintained, ground water can be contaminated, putting people’s health and the environment at risk"

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a legal complaint to the owner and operator of seventeen underground storage tanks at six gasoline stations in Western New York for violating federal regulations.

The complaint, which seeks $42,295 in penalties, was issued to United Refining Company for violations at its Kwik Fill stations in Dunkirk, Westfield, Jamestown, Fredonia and Rochester, New York.

In addition to paying penalties, the complaint requires the facilities to come into full compliance with the environmental regulations.

Judith A. Enck. EPA Regional Administrator, said:
"When underground tanks are not properly maintained, ground water can be contaminated, putting people’s health and the environment at risk.

"Gas station owners have a legal obligation to maintain underground tanks so pollution does not damage the community."

Ground water is the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans. When petroleum or other hazardous substances leak from underground tanks, the leaks are difficult and expensive to clean up, particularly if they involve a public source of drinking water.

The complaint alleges the company failed to:
  1. Upgrade piping at one service station

  2. Keep adequate records of corrosion protection at one service station

  3. Ensure equipment was running properly at one service station

  4. Keep adequate records of release detection monitoring at three service stations

The law authorizes the EPA to seek between $11,000 and $16,000 per tank for each day a violation exists.

In a separate action, the EPA reached an agreement with the NOCO Energy Corporation to settle violations involving thirty-nine underground storage tanks at 13 stations in the Buffalo area and in Rochester. Under the terms of the agreement, NOCO will pay the EPA $14,000 and has agreed to operate its underground tanks in full compliance with the law.