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EPA Levies Large Penalty Against Troutman Oil, Inc. for Underground Storage Tank Violations

Release Date: 8/4/2000
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled a lawsuit against Troutman Oil, Inc. of Austin, Arkansas, an Arkansas retailer, with a penalty of $80,000 for failing to meet underground storage tank (UST) standards. EPA alleged that Troutman Oil Inc. ignored federal and state requirements to properly monitor for tank and/or line leaks at 10 gas stations Troutman operates in Austin, Beebe, Cabot, Little Rock and North Little Rock.

     "Just one gallon of gasoline can ruin five million gallons of drinking water. Leaks from USTs are the leading cause of groundwater contamination. Sometimes, hefty penalties are required to remind owners and operators how important UST compliance is," Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

     The six-count complaint resulted from joint federal and state inspections of Troutman facilities in July and December 1998 and January 1999.  EPA found that none of the company's 41 USTs inspected were monitored adequately for leaks. Standards require that all UST systems be monitored at least monthly in accordance to specific regulatory procedures.

     The company was also charged with violations concerning leak detection devices, annual testing of pressurized lines, tank and piping upgrades, and corrosion and overfill protection.

     Although no leaks were detected during these inspections, these alleged violations provide a variety of opportunities for leaks to occur and for leaks to go unnoticed, creating a threat to public health. For example, methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), an additive in gasoline to reduce air pollution, has been detected in drinking water supplies in some parts of the country.

     New underground storage tank standards took effect Dec. 22, 1998. They require tanks be equipped with spill and overfill prevention, and corrosion protection systems. Owners and operators were given 10 years to upgrade or empty and close existing tanks after these standards were adopted in 1988.