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Release Date: 7/20/1999
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, 415-744-1588

     Six facilities cited on Saipan and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands  

      SAN FRANCISCO--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited Hotel Nikko Saipan Inc., also doing business as the La Fiesta San Roque Shopping Plaza, in San Roque on Saipan for major violations of federal underground storage tank law.

     Five other fuel facilities on Saipan and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) were cited for minor violations. Gas stations on the islands of Rota and Tinian were also inspected.

     The citations resulted from underground storage tank inspections by EPA with assistance from the CNMI Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) staff. EPA warned other fuel tank owners in the Commonwealth that they also face stiff penalties if they do not comply with federal law. EPA inspected 10 facilities out of about 35 regulated underground storage tank facilities in the CNMI.

     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 reliance on groundwater resource in the CNMI, the protection of underground water sources is vital. To prevent releases, all regulated underground storage tanks were required by law to have spill and overfill equipment, corrosion protection, and release detection methods in place by December 1998.

      Now that the deadline has passed, owners and operators of substandard tanks face penalties of up to $11,000 a day per violation in addition to cleanup costs for leaking tanks. In the future, EPA and HDOH plan to conduct unannounced inspections.

     More information on EPA's underground storage tank program can be obtained at: or by calling Norwood Scott at 415-744-2081 or Ramon Mendoza at 415-744-1591. Questions regarding the federal and local underground storage tank programs can also be obtained from DEQ at 670-664-8500.

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