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Release Date: 7/16/1997
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA (415) 744-1578

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced it has cited two gas stations on Hopi Indian lands in Arizona and imposed $1,200 in fines for violating underground storage tank regulations under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  The Polacca Circle M in Polacca was fined $450, and the Keams Canyon 76 Unocal, in Keams Canyon, was fined $750.

     "Compliance with underground storage tank regulations is crucial to preventing groundwater and soil contamination from leaking underground tanks," said Julie Anderson, U.S. EPA's waste management division director. "Fuel tank owners and operators who violate these regulations put water supplies at risk and often create costly cleanup problems to deal with in the future.  Tank owners must not only pay penalties, but also pay for any necessary soil testing and cleanup of contaminated soil or groundwater."

     The two facilities cited, which are owned by Cliff McGee of Holbrook, Ariz., had a total of five leak detection violations, including failing to conduct a fuel line tightness test, failing to conduct adequate tank tightness tests, and failing to permanently close or upgrade an underground tank system that has been taken out of service.  The facilities also failed to report suspected leaks to U.S. EPA.  U.S. EPA ordered the owner to report the suspected leaks and conduct site investigations to determine the extent of soil contamination.  Contaminated soil has already been removed from the Polacca Circle M site.

     The citations were issued during inspections by U.S. EPA and the Hopi Water Resources Department. Five other underground tank facilities on Hopi Indian lands were also inspected, along with eight facilities that have aboveground fuel storage tanks.  The aboveground tank sites were checked for compliance with Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) regulations developed under the federal Clean Water Act.  Inspectors found evidence of soil contamination at two of these sites:   One, at Bacavi, is operated by a contractor, Sanitation Facility Construction; the other is the Bureau of Indian Affairs Facilities Management Site in Keams Canyon.  U.S. EPA directed both owners to undertake prompt cleanup actions.  

     U.S. EPA's underground storage tank (UST) field citation program is designed to quickly bring facilities owned or operated as small businesses into compliance with federal UST rules. The citations impose penalties which generally range from $50 to $300 per violation, and require owners and operators to quickly bring their facilities into compliance. If they do not, they will be subject to more formal enforcement action, which carries much stiffer penalties of up to $11,000 per day per violation.  U.S. EPA and the Hopi Tribe's Water Resources Department will work together to ensure that these facilities comply with UST and SPCC regulations.

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