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U.S. EPA Cites Commonwealth Health Center For Underground Fuel Tank Violations in Saipan

Release Date: 3/4/2003
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working with CNMI Division of Environmental Quality staff, cited the Commonwealth Health Center $4,100 for recent violations of federal underground storage tank regulations.

The EPA fined CHC for failing to notify DEQ of its underground fuel tanks; for not having adequate release detection on its underground fuel tanks and piping; and for failing to replace, upgrade, or close existing substandard tank systems.

The EPA also recently cited four other facilities on Saipan for less significant violations of the federal underground storage tank regulations as part of a larger effort to protect groundwater sources and local habitat in CNMI.

"The federal field citation program helps bring underground storage tanks into compliance as quickly as possible without putting the facilities out of business. Leak prevention is critical for underground fuel storage tanks because a pin-sized hole can release 400 gallons of fuel in a year's time, enough to foul millions of gallons of fresh water," said Norwood Scott, an EPA underground storage tank inspector for the Pacific Southwest Region. "Given the limited amount of fresh water on Saipan, the protection of underground water sources is vital."

A December 1998 federal deadline required regulated underground storage tanks to have spill and overfill equipment, corrosion protection, and release detection methods to prevent releases.

The EPA frequently conducts unannounced tank inspections. Owners and operators who are cited are required to correct the violations, submit documentation, and pay the settlement amount within 30 days. Failure to comply subjects them to penalties of up to $11,000 per violation per tank per day in addition to the added cleanup costs for leaking tanks.

More information on the EPA=s underground storage tank program can be obtained at: