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EPA Releases Results of Idaho Underground Storage Tank(UST) Inspection Effort

Release Date: 11/5/2003
Contact Information: Erik Sirs
(208) 378-5762

November 5, 2003

Agency Officials: “There’s Room for Improvement.”

(BOISE) – Jim Werntz, Idaho state director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, today announced the results of Idaho’s first statewide Underground Storage Tank(UST) inspection campaign, held October 27-30. During the week, a team of 13 inspectors and support personnel visited 102 facilities from Coeur d’Alene to Idaho Falls. Each facility was notified by mail prior to the inspection and was advised as to what types of records and information would be reviewed.

Results of the inspections revealed an overall compliance rate of 34% statewide, with a total of 141 violations and $22,700 in penalties issued.

Leaking underground storage tanks can pose a serious threat to ground water, which is often used for drinking water as well as irrigation and commercial purposes. A majority of Idaho communities rely on ground water for their drinking and household water needs.

Erik Sirs, EPA’s UST inspection coordinator in Idaho, believes that the agency’s philosophy of encouraging owners to pay more attention to tanks before they leak, pays long-term dividends.

“We are seeing greater evidence of leaking tanks all over Idaho,” said Sirs, “including at relatively new installations. This summer alone, EPA has had to conduct two large emergency removal actions on sites in Salmon and Ashton, Idaho. In both cases, extensive gasoline leaks have lead to contamination of ground and surface waters. Once contaminated, ground water can be unuseable for a long, long time.”

According to EPA’s Werntz, the campaign – with an emphasis on leak prevention – was aimed at helping Idaho communities avoid costly future cleanups.

“Without leak detection equipment, tank owners and operators have no way of knowing if their tanks are leaking before it's too late. By investing in prevention," said Werntz, "We save the enormous cost of future cleanups and protect the ground water and drinking water for future generations of Idahoans.”
# # #Contact: Mark MacIntyre/EPA Seattle Erik Sirs/EPA Boise
206-553-7302 208-378-5762