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EPA, Hopi and Navajo Tribes finalize cleanup plan to address Tuba City's leaking underground tanks

Release Date: 1/29/2004
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, EPA, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO-- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency and the Hopi Tribe Department of Natural Resoures, recently selected a final cleanup plan for the leaking underground tank site in Tuba City and Moenkopi, Ariz.

After numerous public meetings, hearings, outreach efforts and consideration of comments from community members, the agency and the Tribes selected two cleanup technologies designed to remove petroleum contaminants from the soil and ground water at and around the intersection of highways 160 and 264.

The first technology pumps air into the ground water which attaches to gasoline molecules that are extracted when the air returns to the surface. The injected air also stimulates the growth of naturally occurring bacteria that breaks down petroleum contamination. The second technology enhances this natural process by injecting oxidizers into the soil and shallow ground water.

Thriftway Marketing Corp., one of three responsible parties at the site, previously installed the first technology at two locations and these systems have been incorporated into the final cleanup plan. These methods have proven effective in cleaning up petroleum contamination at underground storage tank sites across the Southwest.

"This is a great step toward cleaning up this site," said Jeff Scott, the director for the EPA's Waste Management Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "We thank the Navajo and Hopi Tribes for their dedication and commitment in protecting their communities' environment and public health."

"By working together with the Hopi and Navajo people, we are ensuring that we can provide a clean and healthy environment for our communities," said Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr.

"This cooperative effort reinforces the fact that we are all concerned about the safety of our environment and the quality of living as we work toward preserving our homelands," said Hopi Tribe Chairman Wayne Taylor, Jr.

Petroleum contamination was first discovered in Tuba City in the mid-1980's. In 1996, the EPA ordered Thriftway, National Petroleum Marketing Inc., and Sunshine Western, Inc., the latter of which operated what is now the Superfuels station, to investigate underground contamination from leaking fuel tanks and pipes from the operation of the gas stations. Thriftway is currently performing all the work at the site on behalf of itself and all the responsible parties.

Representatives from the EPA, Navajo Nation EPA and Hopi Department of Natural Resources held public meetings and public hearings in Tuba City and at the Hopi Village of Upper Moenkopi in August. The public was invited to comment on the proposed cleanup strategy for the site. This resulted in a final cleanup plan that includes responses to the written and oral comments submitted by the public during the meetings and public comment period.