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Navy Takes 3rd Strike on Storage Tanks

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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For the third time this year, the U.S. Navy has agreed to pay a fine to settle federal allegations of management lapses regarding underground storage tanks at one of its facilities.

This time, the service also was accused of hazardous waste violations.


Federally regulated underground storage tanks must be inspected every three years.

The Navy will pay a $32,800 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste and underground storage tank (UST) regulations at its Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story facility in Virginia Beach, VA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced.

The facility, which combined Fort Story and Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in the 2005 base realignment and closure process, provides housing and training for the nation’s expeditionary forces.

RCRA Violations

EPA cited the Navy for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA also regulates underground storage tanks, with an emphasis on preventing releases that can contaminate groundwater.

EPA said the Navy facility:

  • Failed to determine if certain wastes were hazardous;
  • Stored hazardous waste at the facility;
  • Failed to label containers with date and contents;
  • Failed to have functioning spill and overfill equipment for two USTs; and
  • Failed to notify the state when a new oil-containing UST was installed.

The allegations involve federal hazardous waste and underground storage tank violations at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story facility in Virginia Beach, VA.

Settlement Agreement

Under the settlement agreement, the Navy neither admits nor denies liability, but it has certified its compliance with the relevant RCRA requirements.

EPA said the settlement penalty “reflects the Navy's compliance efforts, and its cooperation with EPA in the investigation and resolution of this matter.”

“The facility has made significant improvements to come into compliance, including the removal of an underground storage tank, providing personnel training, and implementing better management practices," the EPA said.

UST Enforcement Grows

The EPA has been cracking down on underground storage tank violations in the last year, and the Navy has been a frequent enforcement target.

In April, the Navy agreed to pay a $5,855 penalty to settle alleged UST violations at its Naval Support Activity facility in Norfolk, VA.

In January, the service paid nearly $161,000 in fines to settle federal claims that it failed to properly monitor pipes and underground fuel storage tanks for leaks at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, in Silverdale, WA.

Private owners have also been called to account. Earlier this month, EPA announced fines totaling $582,803 against five companies for corrosion, testing lapses and groundwater violations at 22 underground tanks around Buffalo, NY.

And last August, the agency proposed $76,259 in civil penalties against Schmitt Sales Inc., also in the Buffalo area, for underground storage tank violations.

Tougher Rules Planned

Tank owners may be seeing even more of the EPA in the future. The agency has proposed stronger rules for tanks, with new requirements for containment, training, codes of practice and technologies.

Revising Underground Storage Tank Regulations—Revisions to Existing Requirements and New Requirements for Secondary Containment and Operator Training,” published Nov. 18 in the Federal Register, would update and expand the EPA’s original 1988 regulations for the tanks.

EPA proposed the rule in response to a growing number of leaking underground storage tanks. There are about 595,000 active USTs at about 214,000 sites in the United States, according to EPA.

The 89-page proposal would affect a wide range of industries that use USTs, including water, truck, transit, pipeline and airport operations; communications; and utilities.


Tagged categories: Containment; Corrosion; EPA; Pipelines; Tanks; Transportation; Worker training

Comment from James Johnson, (8/29/2012, 10:45 AM)

So we have two government agencies, each 100% funded with our tax dollars, and one is fining the other, plus gobbling up even more of our tax dollars as they "negotiate" a solution, again with our tqx dollars. This sounds kind of like a wife fining her husband for not taking out the trash, with no positive result to their finances, just a lot of aggravation. The EPA could simply have sent a letter stating the Navy was not in compliance and the Navy could have responded by rectifying the situation. Would that make sense? Yes, but since when does Washington make sense? One does wonder what happened to our tax dollars that switched hands and the EPA ended up with.

Comment from shane hirvi, (8/30/2012, 9:21 AM)

No agency should be above the law. Paper pushing doesn't solve probems it just hides them. At least when they are fined it is done publicly. give them A little shame for doing bad things.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/30/2012, 9:27 AM)

James, by fining the Navy, the money comes out of the Navy's budget and "brings home" the problem.

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