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Compania Petrolera Caribe Settles With EPA On Tank Mismanagement Charges; Owner of Tanks at 26 Gas Stations Throughout the Island To Pay $80,000

Release Date: 04/05/1999
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(#99046) SAN JUAN, P.R. -- San Sebastian-based gasoline distributor Compaņia Petrolera Caribe, Inc. will pay a penalty of $80,000 in the settlement of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) complaint that charged that the company violated regulations aimed at protecting the environment from releases of fuel and oil from underground storage tanks. The EPA complaint alleged that Compaņia Petrolera Caribe's 55 underground storage tank (UST) systems, which stored gasoline and diesel fuel at 26 gas stations throughout Puerto Rico, had not been properly tested for leaks and releases since as early as 1993.

"These tank systems are used to store substances that are toxic to the environment and to humans,"said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "Leaks from USTs pose serious threats to our water supply, and can be especially harmful to aquatic ecosystems like those that abound in Puerto Rico. Compaņia Petrolera Caribe's apparent failure to conduct proper leak tests has been troubling, and we expect that along with paying this penalty and expeditiously upgrading its tanks, the company will strictly follow EPA regulations from now on."

In addition to the $80,000 penalty, Compaņia Petrolera Caribe's settlement with EPA includes a Supplemental Environmental Project, on which the company will spend an estimated $215,000 over the next five years. Compaņia Petrolera Caribe will install 24-hour automatic tank gauging systems to continually monitor for leaks and releases at the UST systems in question that are still in operation.

Underground storage tanks are regulated by EPA under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976. USTs range in capacity from a few hundred to 50,000 or more gallons, and are used to store gasoline, heating oil and other fuels, waste oil and hazardous substances at gas stations, marinas, government facilities and large industrial sites.

USTs are one of the greatest sources of groundwater contamination in Puerto Rico. A spill of one gallon of gasoline can render one million gallons of water undrinkable. Leaks from USTs also contaminate the soil around the tanks, and can release unhealthy gasoline vapors into the environment. Since USTs are buried several feet underground, spills and releases into the soil and into the groundwater table are often invisible to people standing at ground level. To insure that releases are quickly detected, RCRA requires all owners and operators to perform monthly tests on their tanks to check for leaks. RCRA also requires owners and operators to keep thorough records of these tests, and of any work done on the tanks.

For more information contact:
Nina Habib Spencer, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3670 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: