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Latest Idaho Underground Storage Tank(UST) Inspection Effort Results

Release Date: 5/6/2004
Contact Information: Erik Sirs
(208) 378-5762

May 6, 2004

Work Identifies a “Troubling Trend”

(BOISE) – Since October, 2003, EPA officials have inspected 155 commercial gasoline stations statewide and found that only 1-in-3 comply with federal Underground Storage Tank(UST) requirements.

The latest round of facility inspections – conducted April 26-30 – covered areas in and around Coeur d’Alene, the Treasure Valley and Twin Falls. The results were announced today in Boise by Jim Werntz, EPA Idaho state director.

According to Werntz, each visited facility had been previously notified by mail and was advised as to what types of records and information would be reviewed before an inspector arrived.

“The UST requirements are serious,” said Werntz, “Because they are the ‘front line’ of defense to prevent gasoline from leaking into the soil and groundwater.” Idaho’s groundwater – vitally important for drinking water, as well as agricultural irrigation and commerce – can be devastated by petroleum products. Last year, expenditures on leaking tank cleanups in Idaho totaled nearly $5 million.

Erik Sirs, EPA's UST inspection coordinator in Idaho, applauds those owners who are currently in compliance, but notes that many tank owners appear to lack understanding about ongoing operation & maintenance requirements with the latest leak detection technology.

"We appreciate the hard work and investment many owners have made to comply with the law,” said Sirs. “But others are either not understanding the need for careful operation and maintenance, or are getting incomplete information from elsewhere. We’re always willing to provide the latest in regulatory guidance and requirements.”

As a result of this latest round of inspections and continuing low compliance rate, EPA has requested additional staff and resources from headquarters in Washington, D.C. In this way, EPA expects to reach more of the estimated 1,300 facilities in Idaho by expanding the enforcement program and working with IDEQ to provide technical assistance to owners and operators. EPA hopes to make Idaho a showcase of responsible UST operation and maintenance.
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