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EPA, Hopi and Navajo Tribes approve Thriftway cleanup plan to address Tuba City leaking underground tanks

Release Date: 5/20/2004
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, EPA, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency and the Hopi Tribe Department of Natural Resoures, today approved a final cleanup plan submitted by Thriftway Marketing Corp. for the leaking underground tank site in Tuba City, Ariz.

In December 2003, the U.S. EPA selected two different cleanup technologies designed to remove petroleum contaminants from soil and ground water at and around the intersection of state highways 160 and 264. Thriftway submitted its implementation plan in March and today's action sets in motion the company's cleanup strategy. Thriftway must begin work within 45 days of today's approval.

"The EPA has a strong working relationship with the Hopi and Navajo Tribes, and we are all committed to protecting the environment and the communities' public health," said Jeff Scott, the director for the EPA's Waste Management Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "We are pleased to be one step closer to addressing the issues at the site."

"The Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency has been advocating for the clean up of the leaking underground storage tank site in Tuba City for a long time. Our agency is elated and happy for the Tuba City community," said Henry Haven, geologist with the Underground Storage Tank and Leaking Underground Storage Tank program with NNEPA.

The first selected technology pumps air into the ground water which attaches to gasoline molecules that are extracted when the air returns to the surface. The injected air also stimulates the growth of naturally occurring bacteria that breaks down petroleum contamination. The second technology enhances this natural process by injecting oxidizers into the soil and shallow ground water.

Thriftway, one of three responsible parties at the site, previously installed the first technology at two locations and these systems have been incorporated into the final cleanup plan. These methods have proven effective in cleaning up petroleum contamination at underground storage tank sites across the Southwest.

Petroleum contamination was first discovered in Tuba City in the mid-1980's. In 1996, the EPA ordered Thriftway, National Petroleum Marketing Inc., and Sunshine Western, Inc. to investigate and clean up underground contamination from leaking fuel tanks and pipes from the operation of the gas stations. Thriftway is currently performing all the work at the site on behalf of itself and the other two responsible parties.

The EPA approved Thriftway's plan after some modications were made, and also requires a supplemental plan to address the injection of oxidizers in the ground water. The 1996 EPA order requires that Thriftway begin installation of a third air injection and extraction system at the former Tuba City Truck Stop property on the southern corner of the intersection within 45 days of the approval of the plan.