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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined the Guam Office of Civil Defense $5,000 for alleged federal underground storage tank violations at its facility in Agana Heights, the first significant underground storage tank action pursued in Guam.
“The federal rules are very clear about what an owner-operator needs to do to properly maintain an underground storage tank,” said Jeff Scott, director for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s Waste Division. “Leak prevention and detection is critical to prevent tanks from contaminating the precious underground fresh water sources in Guam. We expect the Government of Guam will take the necessary actions to insure all of its underground tanks meet federal rules.”
The EPA alleges that the Office of Civil Defense’s 4,000 gal. diesel underground storage tank was not upgraded to meet the EPA’s rules to upgrade, replace or close an underground storage tank. The rules require regulated underground storage tanks to have spill, overfill and corrosion protection by December 1998.
The Office of Civil Defense was inspected and given numerous opportunities by the EPA and the Guam Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 to bring its tank into compliance but failed to do so.
In addition to the payment of the fine, the EPA’s settlement order requires the Office of Civil Defense to:
-Close its underground tank in 30 days by cleaning and removing the tank system from the ground;
-Complete a facility site assessment in 60 days in order to discover if the tank was leaking and;
-Submit a tank closure report to the EPA in 100 days.
The EPA is working with the Guam EPA to inspect all underground tank sites by the end of 2005, citing facilities when necessary. The EPA frequently conducts unannounced tank inspections. Owners and operators who are cited with a field citation can correct the violations, submit documentation and pay the settlement amount within 30 days. Formal administrative complaints may also be pursued for violations and may subject owners and operators to penalties of up to $11,000 per violation per tank per day in addition to the added cleanup costs for leaking tanks.