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Release Date: 10/21/1999
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

     (San Francisco) The Chevron gas station in Sells, Ariz., was fined $3,650 and the Kitt Peak National Observatory operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatories was cited $350 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) for violations of the underground storage tank rules.  In addition to these two facilities, the U.S. EPA conducted joint inspections of  five other facilities on the Tohono O'odham Nation with environmental program staff from the Tohono O'odham Nation.  

     The Hickiwan District Gas Station Project and the Pisinemo Trading Post are in temporary closure pending a final decision by the owners to either upgrade, replace or permanently close the underground storage tanks at these sites.  These two sites went into temporary closure as a means to meet the December 22, 1998, U.S. EPA national upgrade deadline.  The Hickiwan District facility needs to lock their fill pipes and assure that there is no more than one inch of product remaining in each of the two tanks to comply with the temporary closure requirements.  The Pisinemo Trading Post was in compliance with the temporary closure requirements and needs to provide a schedule to the U.S. EPA and Tribe for the upgrade work at this site.   The Sells District Station in Sells, Ariz., and the Golden Hasan Casino gas station in Why, Ariz., need to provide the U.S. EPA and Tribe with additional leak detection and financial responsibility documentation to satisfy U.S. EPA underground storage tank rules.  The new Shell Gas Station in Sells needs to notify U.S. EPA and the Tribe within 30 days after they begin

     Leak prevention is critical for underground fuel storage tanks because unseen leaks caused by corrosion, overfills or spills can pollute underground water supplies.  A hole the size of a pin can release 400 gallons of fuel in a year's time, enough to foul millions of gallons of fresh water. Given the limited amount of ground water in this area of the Tohono O'odham Nation west of Tucson, the protection of underground water sources is vital.  To prevent releases, federal law required all regulated underground storage tanks to have spill and overfill equipment, corrosion protection, and release detection methods in place by December 22, 1998.

     Now that the deadline has passed, owners and operators of substandard tanks face penalties of up to $11,000 a day per tank in addition to cleanup costs for leaking tanks. In the future U.S. EPA plans to conduct continued inspections on tribal lands in close coordination with each of the affected tribes.  

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