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EPA Proposes $736,061 Penalty Against Goodman Oil

Release Date: 6/20/2000
Contact Information: Gary McRae

June 20, 2000 - - - - - - - - 00-031

For Immediate Release

As part of an ongoing initiative to protect Idaho’s ground water resources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a total of $736,061 in penalties against Goodman Oil, a mid-sized petroleum marketer with facilities in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, for 35 violations of federal underground storage tank regulations.

There are nine stations operating in Idaho -- affiliated with Goodman Oil -- that have underground storage tanks. The stations are located in Boise, Lewiston, Homedale, Weiser, and Nampa. All nine stations had violations ranging from $20,388 to $177,894. The largest single penalty -- $83,760 -- was proposed for a Boise-area facility for not upgrading or permanently closing tanks. The $736,061 total is the largest penalty of its kind ever proposed for underground storage tank violations by EPA in the northwest.

According to Jim Werntz, EPA Director for Idaho, preventing leaks and spills from storage tanks through responsible operation and maintenance is key to protecting Idaho’s ground water.

“Abundant ground water that’s clean and safe to drink is crucial to both Idaho’s economic and environmental future,” Werntz said. “Families depend on it for healthy drinking water and it’s the lifeblood of our agricultural producers. Wherever groundwater is at risk from non-compliance or neglect, we’ll enforce the law. It’s too important to all of us.”

Because contaminated ground water is difficult -- if not impossible -- to remedy, federal storage tank rules require that owners and operators properly install, operate and maintain such tanks. There is special emphasis on maintaining reliable leak-detection devices. In Idaho, there is also a state Petroleum Storage Tank Fund (PSTF) which insures tanks if a leak occurs. The PSTF insures eligible tanks at a cost of $25 per tank, per year. If a leak is discovered and the facility is insured by PSTF, the facility will receive up to a million dollars of clean-up coverage. The Company apparently chose not to participate in Idaho’s PSTF program for most of its facilities.

EPA inspectors visited the Company many times, issuing both verbal warnings and small field citations prior to the latest proposed penalty. Proposed penalties are computed based on a number of factors, including potential for harm to the environment or human health; past compliance history; degree of owner/operator cooperation experienced during an inspection; amount of time a tank is out of compliance and economic benefit derived from not being in compliance.

“It’s important that there’s a level playing field when it comes to underground storage tank enforcement,” said EPA’s Werntz. “We owe it to the tank owners who do the right thing to pursue and prosecute those who don’t. Ground water is too precious to gamble with its purity.”
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