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News Releases from Region 01

EPA Settlement Protects Soil and Groundwater in Lawrence, Mass.

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON - In a recent settlement agreement with EPA's New England office, Hilton Oil Co., Inc. will take action to come into compliance with Underground Storage Tank regulations to protect groundwater and soil at its facility in Lawrence, Mass. The company also agreed to pay a $27,000 penalty.

The action stems from an EPA inspection of the facility in June 2013. A subsequent EPA complaint alleged that Hilton did not have documentation proving that it had conducted the required tank monitoring to ensure that the tanks at the facility were not leaking harmful petroleum products into the ground. EPA's complaint also alleged that the facility failed to test its tanks monthly for possible leaks, and failed to check to make sure the tanks were not rusting.

"Underground tanks can cause serious damage to the environment if they leak," stated EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding. "It's critical that facilities with underground storage tanks carefully adhere to testing and maintenance requirements to prevent pollution."

Underground storage tanks are regulated by EPA under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These tanks range in capacity from a few hundred to 50,000 or more gallons, and are used to store gasoline, heating oil and other fuels, waste oil and hazardous substances at gas stations, marinas, government facilities and large industrial sites.

Underground storage tanks (USTs) are a major source of groundwater contamination, with thousands of leaks and spills from tanks reported annually. A spill of one gallon of gasoline can render one million gallons of water undrinkable. Leaks from USTs can also contaminate the soil around the tanks, and can cause unhealthy gasoline vapors to settle into the basements of private homes and apartment buildings.

Since USTs are buried several feet underground, spills and releases into the soil and into the groundwater table are often invisible to people standing at ground level. To insure that releases are quickly detected, RCRA requires all owners and operators to provide a method of leak detection for each UST that can identify releases from any portion of the tank and connected underground piping. RCRA also requires owners and operators to keep thorough records of leak detection activities and of any work done on the tanks.

More information to help property owners and facility managers understand and follow federal UST regulations: www.epa.gov/ust