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November 7, 2007

Courts Order $30,000 in Penalties for Underground Storage Tank Violations

Lawsuits involved gas station underground tanks in Davenport and Le Mars.
“UST” regulations protect groundwater from petroleum leaks and spills.

Judges in Scott County and Plymouth County have ordered gasoline underground storage tank operators to pay a total of $30,000 in penalties for violating Iowa “UST” regulations that are designed to detect and prevent corrosion and leaks at underground storage tanks.

Attorney General Tom Miller said the court orders resolve lawsuits also filed by his office in each county to enforce underground storage tank requirements. Both lawsuits alleged ongoing violations of maintenance, monitoring and reporting requirements for underground storage tanks at gasoline stations.

“Iowa has nearly 8,000 regulated underground storage tanks,” Miller said. “The UST regulations and program ensure that owners and operators monitor and inspect tanks, maintain them, and prevent petroleum leaks and spills that threaten people or the environment. Most underground storage tank operators do it right and follow the rules.”

In Scott County, District Court Judge Marlita A. Greve on Tuesday ordered U.S. Nation Mart, Inc., Ved Pal, and Babli Saini to pay a $10,000 civil penalty plus a $5,000 administrative penalty assessed previously by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The defendants own and operate a gas station at 1715 Kimberly Road in Davenport.

In Plymouth County, District Court Judge Jeffrey A. Neary on Wednesday ordered Country Stores of Carroll, Ltd., to pay a $15,000 civil penalty. The defendant owns and operates the Le Mars Country Store at 436 Plymouth Street SW in Le Mars, the site of the alleged violations.

In each case, the court also prohibited further violations and required certified compliance inspections, monitoring, training of employees in UST requirements, and regular reporting.

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Background and details:

Scott County – U.S. Nation Mart, Inc., Ved Pal and Babli Saini, defendants:

The State lawsuit filed Tuesday alleged that the U.S. Nation Mart gas station owned and operated by the defendants at 1715 West Kimberly Road in Davenport contains one 6,000-gallon and two 10,000-gallon underground storage tanks (USTs). The suit noted that on September 24, 2003, the Iowa DNR ordered U.S. Nation Mart to pay an administrative penalty for alleged UST violations at the site, including failure to provide the DNR with requested UST records.

In July 2005, August 2005, and February 2007, the DNR issued “Notices of Violation” to Ved Pal and U.S. Nation Mart for violations including failing to conduct required corrosion protection tests and leak-detection tests, failing to maintain required UST records for the site, and having spill-containment basins that contained, fuel, water and debris.

The Consent Order, Judgment and Decree entered Tuesday by Judge Marlita A. Greve ordered the defendants to pay a $10,000 civil penalty, pay a $5,000 administrative penalty, retain a certified UST compliance inspector, train employees in UST requirements, conduct inspections, submit reports to the Iowa DNR, and properly close existing USTs at the site. The Court prohibited further violation of the Iowa UST law. The Court order also said, “Willful failure to comply with the terms of this Order may subject Defendants to punishment for contempt of court as well as other penalties and sanctions provided by law.”

Plymouth County – Country Stores of Carroll, Ltd., defendant:

The State lawsuit filed Tuesday alleged Country Stores owns and operates several retail gas stations throughout Iowa, including the Le Mars Country Store at 436 Plymouth St. SW in Le Mars. The site contains one 6,000-gallon petroleum underground storage tank and two 12,000-gallon USTs. The suit alleged various violations including: failing to perform a required annual product-line tightness test or alternative monitoring; failing to conduct DNR-approved UST leak-detection monitoring for petroleum releases; and failing to maintain required records.

The Consent Order, Judgment and Decree entered Wednesday by Judge Jeffrey A. Neary prohibited further violations and ordered the defendant to retain a certified UST compliance inspector, train employees in UST requirements, conduct inspections and submit reports to the DNR.


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