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Latest Idaho Underground Storage Tank Inspection Effort Reveals Facilities Still Have Problems

Release Date: 11/10/2004
Contact Information: Erik Sirs
(208) 378-5762

November 10, 2004

For just over a year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has increased the number of inspections at gas stations and convenience stores statewide as part of an ongoing initiative to protect Idaho’s groundwater. The majority of these facilities were inspected by EPA for the first time and nearly 70 percent were not complying with federal leak prevention regulations.

The results of the most recent round of inspections were announced today in Boise by Jim Werntz, EPA Idaho state director. The inspections looked at facilities from Coeur d’Alene, to Lewiston, and from the Treasure Valley to Idaho Falls. According to Werntz, each facility was notified by mail prior to the inspection and was advised as to what types of records and information would be reviewed before an inspector arrived.

“The bottom line is we found only one-in-three facilities complying with key operational requirements,” said Werntz. “While some in the industry are doing everything right, there are a large number of facilities in Idaho that are not making leak detection and prevention a priority. This should be a concern not just to EPA, but to every Idaho resident who drinks water or irrigates from a well. UST requirements are critical to protecting groundwater from petroleum leaks and preventing costly cleanups for taxpayers.”

Other details of the inspection effort included:
      • 76 inspections were conducted, identifying 93 violations for a total of $14,550 in penalties.
      • 52 % of the violations involved lack of leak detection, improper operation of and missing or incomplete records.
      • 26 % of the violations involve lack of required equipment upgrades, improper equipment installation and not following operational requirements.
According to Erik Sirs, EPA's UST inspection coordinator in Idaho, while the slight improvement is heartening, there is much more work to do. Since Idaho is the only state in the America without an UST program, the responsibility to inspect 1,350 facilities statewide falls to the EPA.

“We appreciate the effort that many operators have undertaken to comply,” Sirs said. “But there’s still a large group that hasn’t gotten the message. We’ll continue to demonstrate that we take our job to protect the Idaho’s precious water resources very seriously.”

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