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EPA Cites Underground Tank Owner

Thursday, August 4, 2011

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The Environmental Protection Agency has taken action against Schmitt Sales Inc. of Buffalo, NY, for improperly managing underground tanks used to store gasoline and other fuels at two of its facilities in the Buffalo area and eight other locations statewide.



The EPA’s Underground Storage Tank (UST) program began in the mid-1980s, when most underground tanks were still made of bare steel. At the time, there were about two million USTs. By 2009, two-thirds of these tanks were closed. All remaining federally regulated tanks must be inspected every three years.

EPA is seeking $76,259 in civil penalties against Schmitt, alleging failure to:

• Properly test and maintain records of corrosion protection;

• Install or operate overfill prevention devices;

• Properly close out-of-service tanks; and

• Maintain records of leak detection monitoring.

The company declined to comment Thursday on the complaint.

Maintenance Required

EPA regulations require owners and operators to maintain underground storage tanks to avoid leaks into the environment. In addition, the regulations require owners and operators to clean up leaks to restore and protect ground water resources, and provide a safe environment for those who live or work around these sites.

“Underground petroleum leaks can spread quickly and contaminate ground water and soil, which is why it is critical for gas station owners to monitor their tanks,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “I encourage all gas station owners to properly maintain their underground fuel storage tanks and guard against potential leaks.”

Corrosion Protection Violations

Petroleum releases from underground storage tanks can contaminate ground water, making it unsafe to drink, pose fire and explosion hazards, and damage people’s health.

EPA’s complaint alleges that the owner and/or operators failed to:

• Test the protection system that is designed to prevent corrosion in 12 underground tanks;

• Provide adequate overfill prevention equipment for five underground tanks;

• Properly cap off and permanently close two underground tanks; and

• Maintain adequate records of leak detection monitoring in nine tanks.

The Buffalo-area gasoline service stations owned or operated by Schmitt that are named in the complaint are Tubby’s Corner Quick Stop in Angola and Schmitt’s Robo Mart in Williamsville. The other Schmitt-owned service stations are: Brooks Super Duper in Cattaraugus; Dutch Hollow Market in Avon; Echoes on the Lake in Hammond; Parkview Market in Mayville; Pine Valley Busy Mart in Pine Valley; T-Burg Foodline, Inc. in Trumansburg; Cassadaga Supermarket in Cassadaga; and Ducky’s in Friendship.

About 597,000 federally regulated, underground storage tanks were active at about 215,000 sites across the country at the end of 2010. About two million tanks, typically made of bare steel, were underground when the EPA’s Underground Storage Tank (UST) program began in the mid-1980s. About two-thirds were closed and removed by 2009.

Today, all federally regulated USTs must be inspected every three years.


Tagged categories: Corrosion protection; EPA; Tanks and vessels; Violations

Comment from M. Halliwelll, (8/5/2011, 10:34 AM)

A good portion of my job over the last 10 years has involved dealing with underground tanks, their leaks and the resulting clean up. Nice to see the EPA involved in the US...but 2 facilities doesn't even rate a drop in the bucket (even if these are large sites, we're looking at maybe 8 tanks out of the nearly 600,000 regulated tanks).

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