Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Thursday, December 8, 2005.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

A.G. Files Six Lawsuits to Enforce Underground Storage Tank "UST" Laws

Regulations protect groundwater from petroleum spills and releases.

DES MOINES.   The Attorney General's Office filed six lawsuits around the state Wednesday to enforce Iowa law and environmental regulations concerning underground storage tanks used to hold gasoline and other petroleum products.

In each case, owners or operators had failed to comply with attempts by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to obtain voluntary compliance. The state Environmental Protection Commission ultimately referred the six matters to the Attorney General's Office to file lawsuits. The lawsuits ask the courts to prohibit further violations and to assess additional penalties.

Attorney General Tom Miller said: "Underground storage tank regulations are well-established in order to protect people and the environment -- specifically, our groundwater -- from the dangers caused by petroleum spills and releases. There are over 8,000 regulated underground storage tanks buried all over the state, and most owners and operators comply with their obligations to monitor and inspect tanks, maintain tanks, and prevent petroleum leaks and spills."

The suits were filed yesterday in district courts for Clay, Crawford, Guthrie, Scott, Sioux, and Story counties. In five of the cases, the DNR previously had issued orders and penalties that were ignored. In the other case, the owner previously had been the subject of DNR orders for another site. In each instance, the Attorney General's Office also issued notice that it intended to file a lawsuit if the matters were not resolved. [See details of the cases below.]

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Details on the Underground Storage Tank ("UST")

Enforcement Cases filed December 7, 2005:

Clay County: Roger Ginger, formerly doing business as L&L Service Standard, was the owner of two 4000-gallon USTs and one 2000-gallon UST in Everly, Iowa. Since 1997, the Iowa DNR has attempted to get Ginger to permanently close the USTs, which had been taken out of service in 1995, and pay applicable tank management fees. In 2003, the DNR issued an administrative order requiring permanent closure of the USTs and payment of delinquent fees, and assessing a $5750 penalty. Ginger did not appeal, but has failed to comply. In May 2005, the EPC requested the Attorney General to file suit to obtain compliance. [Click here for Clay County lawsuit.]

Crawford County: Donald Patrick Kelly, doing business as Kelly Construction, was the owner and operator of a 500-gallon UST in Denison, Iowa. In 1997, Kelly notified the DNR that the UST had been temporarily closed in 1992. Since then, the DNR has repeatedly notified Kelly of the need to permanently close the UST, but Kelly failed to comply. In 2003, the DNR issued an administrative order requiring permanent closure of the UST and assessing a $1860 penalty. Kelly did not appeal and has not complied. In May 2005, the EPC requested the Attorney General to file suit to obtain compliance. [Click here for Crawford County lawsuit.]

Guthrie County: Donald Dean Williams, doing business as Williams Oil Company, is the owner and operator of five USTs in Stuart, Iowa. (This is the second UST lawsuit naming Williams.) Petroleum releases were observed as early as 1993. After Williams' failure to conduct a site cleanup investigation and submit a cleanup and petroleum 'free product' recovery report, in 1995 the DNR issued an administrative order requiring compliance and assessing a $4800 penalty. Williams appealed, defaulted on his appeal, and failed to comply. The EPC requested the Attorney General to file suit to obtain compliance, which resulted in a consent decree, payment of $12,752 in penalties, and interest. In 2000, Williams submitted a site cleanup report and the DNR classified the site as high risk. Since then, Williams has failed to submit an adequate petroleum free product recovery report or corrective action report. In October 2005, the EPC requested the Attorney General to again file suit to obtain compliance and cleanup of the site. [Click here for Guthrie County lawsuit.]

Scott County: S.K. Food & Gas, Inc., owns and operates two 6000-gallon USTs and one 10,000-gallon UST in Davenport, Iowa. S.K. Food & Gas has failed to comply with a number of UST requirements designed to prevent and detect petroleum releases, including: failure to protect metal flex conductors from corrosion, failure to internally inspect the USTs, failure to test the cathodic corrosion protection system, failure to maintain records of operation, failure to monitor the USTs or use monthly inventory controls, failure to monitor pressurized UST piping, and failure to maintain leak detection records. In July 2005, the EPC requested the Attorney General to file suit to obtain compliance. (S.K. Food & Gas previously had been the subject of DNR orders for another site.) [Click here for Scott County lawsuit.]

Sioux County: Boyer's Sand and Rock, Inc., and William Boyer, owned and operated four 1000-gallon USTs in Hawarden, Iowa. In 1997, Boyer notified the DNR that the USTs would be temporarily closed as of August 30, 1997. In 1999, the DNR notified Boyer that the one-year period that is allowed for temporary closure had long expired and that the USTs needed to be permanently closed. Boyer did not respond. Subsequent notices were sent to Boyer of the need to permanently close the USTs. In 2003, the DNR issued an administrative order requiring permanent closure and assessing a penalty of $2380. Boyer appealed, defaulted on his appeal, and has still failed to comply. In July 2005, the EPC requested the Attorney General to file suit to obtain compliance. [Click here for Sioux County lawsuit.]

Story County: Jerry L. Roney is the owner of the site of a former gasoline station in Huxley, Iowa. Prior to Roney's ownership, a petroleum release had occurred at the site. Roney purchased the site in 1998 and obtained all benefits from the Iowa UST Fund Board as a condition of the purchase. Since then, the DNR has notified Roney of the need to complete a further site assessment but he failed to comply. In 2000, the DNR issued an administrative order to Roney requiring a Tier 2 site assessment and assessing a $2000 penalty. Roney did not appeal. Petroleum free product was subsequently discovered at the site in the groundwater, in excess of drinking water standards. Roney has failed to perform an adequate site assessment as required by the order. In May 2005, the EPC requested the Attorney General to filed suit to obtain compliance and cleanup at the site. [Click here for Story County lawsuit.]

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