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EPA settles enforcement action with Cocos Lagoon Development Corporation for underground storage tank violations on Saipan

Release Date: 5/18/2004
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

HONOLULU - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined the Cocos Lagoon Development Corp. $15,518 for alleged federal underground storage tank violations in Saipan.

The company owned and operated two underground storage tanks at its power plant for the La Fiesta, San Roque shopping center. The two 15,000 gallon tanks contained diesel petroleum product used to run the facility's power generators.

"The federal rules are very clear about what an owner-operator needs to do in order to properly maintain an underground storage tank," said Jeff Scott, Director of Waste Programs for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region. "Leak prevention and detection is critical to prevent tanks from contaminating the precious underground fresh water sources in Saipan."

This is the third time that EPA and CNMI Division of Environmental Quality officials have inspected La Fiesta. Today's penalty is the first formal underground storage tank administrative action pursued in CNMI.

The EPA alleges that, at various times, the company failed to:
-properly perform leak detection on the tanks;
-maintain records relating to the facility's leak detection system;
-maintain records of having actually used leak detection;
-use overfill prevention equipment on the tanks and;
-provide financial responsibility for taking action in case of any accidental releases from the tanks.

A December 1998 federal deadline required regulated underground storage tanks to have spill and overfill equipment, corrosion protection, and release detection methods to prevent releases.

The EPA frequently conducts unannounced tank inspections and the CNMI DEQ is also conducting annual inspections of every underground storage tank facility in CNMI. 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.

More information on the EPA=s underground storage tank program can be obtained at: