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Consumer News Release

For immediate release -- Friday, May 11, 2001.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699

Statement of the Attorney General's Office Regarding Wunschel Oil Co. of Ida Grove

Statement of the Attorney General's Office:

Ida County District Court Judge John P. Duffy has issued a permanent injunction ordering Wunschel Oil Co. and Vernus and Jacquelyn Wunschel to allow DNR and its representatives access to the Wunschel Oil property at the corner of Highways 59 and 175 in Ida Grove, and not to "harass, obstruct, or otherwise interfere in any way" with representatives of the DNR who seek access to the site for sampling or corrective action. (The order was filed in Ida County District Court on Wed., May 9; the Attorney General's Office received a copy Thursday afternoon, May 10.)

The Court had issued a temporary injunction on November 7 in response to a lawsuit filed in September by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller that sought to remove significant amounts of petroleum contamination of the land and groundwater at the site. In February, the Attorney General's Office asked the Court to grant summary judgment and make the injunction permanent, which the Court did this week.

The DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) was able to resume cleanup activities on the property on March 26, almost one year after it had been denied access. Tests taken in March show significant amounts of petroleum contamination remain on the land and groundwater. Cleanup has been underway since then and is expected to be a long process.

At a hearing seeking the injunction last fall, the State presented evidence that since 1998 it has removed thousands of gallons of gasoline from the ground at the Wunschel property, which is within 200 feet of the primary drinking water well for the City of Ida Grove. The State lawsuit alleged that the petroleum contamination potentially endangers the nearby Ida Grove city drinking water well. If the petroleum product were to migrate and break through a clay soil layer under the site, the State alleged, the product could be drawn into one of the city's wells.