TEN YEAR OLD UST VIOLATION SAGA ENDS WITH PAYMENT OF OVER $2.8 MILLION
(Courtesy of PEI’s Tulsa Letter, 9/4/14, Vol. 64, No. 18)
In September 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed an administrative complaint against Duncan Petroleum Corp., Dover, Delaware, citing violations of federal regulations designed to detect and prevent leaks from underground storage tanks (USTs) at five Maryland gasoline stations. That complaint was settled in a February 2006 consent agreement which imposed a $65,000 penalty, and required measures to ensure continued compliance with UST safeguards.
After Duncan Petroleum failed to carry out the compliance measures, EPA inspected 13 additional Duncan Petroleum stations, documenting UST violations at each facility. In December 2008, after providing multiple opportunities to settle the matter, the United States Justice Department filed a civil action against Robert Duncan and Duncan Petroleum. After two days of jury trial, the claims were resolved in August 2010 by a stipulated order, agreed to by Robert Duncan, requiring payment of a $2 million penalty by December 15, 2010.
Robert Duncan failed to pay the agreed penalty, claiming an inability to pay. After analyzing his financial information, the government discovered that six months prior to trial, Robert Duncan conveyed assets worth about $10 million to several LLCs, trusts and foundations under his control.
In August 2011, the United States filed a new complaint against Mr. Duncan and affiliated parties, seeking to void these asset transfers pursuant to the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act. On the eve of the trial in March 2014, Mr. Duncan stipulated that the government had sufficient evidence to establish that most of the transfers were fraudulent, and the United States agreed to delay proceedings to permit him to settle his liability by selling and refinancing assets. As of last month, the United States received total payments in settlement of the federal lawsuit of $2,889,351.41, which includes the $2 million penalty imposed in 2010, plus interest, as well as attorney’s fees and costs exceeding $450,000, and daily stipulated penalties exceeding $300,000.
Ben’s note: UST compliance is largely a function of the UST owner taking seriously the risk USTs pose to the environment, neighbors, and themselves. Fortunately out of the thousands of UST operators I’ve trained over the last 20 years, only a few seemed to care so little that I half expect them to end up like poor Mr. Duncan.
(courtesy of PMAA’s Weekly Review, 9/5/14)
The U.S. EPA has fined four gas station owners in upstate New York a total of $287,100 in penalties for violations of federal underground storage tank regulations. The August 2012 complaint against the four companies alleged that one or more of them failed to:
Meet corrosion protection or other new standards for two tanks and seven fuel lines.
Conduct release detection every thirty days on eleven tanks.
Perform annual tests of automatic line leak detector systems for nineteen underground storage tanks.
Provide adequate equipment to protect against tank overfills for thirteen underground storage tanks.
Conduct an annual line tightness test or conduct monthly monitoring of underground pressurized piping for seventeen fuel lines.
Properly cap off two temporarily closed underground storage tanks.
Keep adequate records of release detection monitoring for three facilities.
Respond to a request for information for one facility.
“Gas station owners will be held accountable if they fail to follow environmental rules that protect our water,” the EPA said. “When ground water is not protected from improperly maintained petroleum storage tanks, people and the environment are put at risk. All gas station owners must regularly monitor their underground storage tanks to prevent petroleum leaks.” For more information on proper maintenance of underground storage tanks, click here.
Ben’s note: New York does not yet require UST operator training but should by 2015. Hopefully these stories will decrease in the future with proper education.