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Truck Stop Near Pendleton Issued Complaint for Violations of Underground Tank Rules

Release Date: 3/22/1999
Contact Information: Lauris Davies
(206) 553-2857

March 22 , 1999 - - - - - - - - - - -- - 99-14


The Arrowhead Truck Plaza, just east of Pendleton, Oregon, has been issued a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complaint seeking $146,007 in civil penalties because EPA inspectors reported violations of federal regulations designed to keep underground tanks from leaking fuel into ground water.

The complaint was announced today by Lauris Davies, manager of the ground water protection unit at EPA’s Northwest regional headquarters in Seattle. Davies said that the complaint is the first issued by her office since a December 22 deadline required a series of leak-prevention measures to be in place at service stations where underground tanks are used to store gasoline, diesel fuel or other petroleum products.

EPA inspected the Arrowhead Truck Plaza on January 13, according to Davies. The inspectors said they found seven violations, including failure to upgrade tanks and piping, failure to use overfill prevention equipment, failure to perform annual tank and line tests, failure to maintain liability insurance and failure to report a petroleum release.

Davies said some of the violations found in January were similar to violations discovered over the last few years during other EPA inspections at the Arrowhead truck stop.

"There has been a troubling pattern of recurrent violations at the Arrowhead Truck Plaza," said Davies. "EPA finds violations, the truck stop comes quickly into compliance, EPA makes a subsequent visit, and our inspectors find new violations."

At the time of the January inspection, the Arrowhead Truck Plaza was owned by George Bonbright. Bonbright is the president of Bonbright Oil Company, a Pendleton firm that owns several other gasoline stations in eastern Oregon.

"Mr.Bonbright has been very responsive to complaints and has been cooperative in working with EPA," Davies declared. "But it’s not enough to correct the violations if you lapse back into non-compliance. When it comes to the underground storage tank rules, you’ve got to come into compliance and stay that way."

Davies noted that small leaks from below-ground fuel tanks can cause big problems.

"A hole the size of a pin, if left unrepaired for a year, will release more than 400 gallons into the environment," said Davies.

The EPA set new standards for commercial underground tanks in 1988 and gave owners ten years to meet the standards. Tanks are required to use corrosive resistant and leak detection technologies, which reduce the probability of leaks that can contaminate soil and ground water. The EPA and state environmental agencies have offered technical and financial assistance over the upgrade period to tank owners.

The Arrowhead Truck Plaza is on Highway 331 (near Exit 216 off Interstate 84) within the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Included with the EPA complaint is a compliance order that directs Bonbright Oil Company to submit to EPA a plan for checking out all suspected releases at the Arrowhead Truck Plaza from the underground storage tanks. Once EPA approves the plan, Bonbright Oil must take all necessary corrective action.

As for the complaint and the $146,007 proposed penalty, Bonbright has 30 days from the date he receives the complaint to contest the penalty and challenge EPA’s allegations. During those 30 days, Bonbright may request a hearing or request an informal settlement conference.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of the 17-page complaint and compliance order are available from EPA’s Public Environmental Resource Center in Seattle. The complaint offers details of past infractions at the Arrowhead Truck Plaza and breaks down the $146,007 penalty by each of the seven counts alleged against Bonbright. For a copy, call either (206) 553-1200, or--from any point in Oregon, Idaho, Washington or Alaska -- you can make the call toll-free by dialing (800) 423-4372.