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July 20, 2007

Williams Oil Co. Ordered to Pay $20,000 and Continue Cleanup at Petroleum Storage Site

Des Moines.   Attorney General Tom Miller said today that Dean Williams and Williams Oil Co. of Stuart have agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty for long-running violations of Iowa’s Underground Storage Tank or “UST” regulations.

Miller said Guthrie County District Court Judge Gregory Hulse issued an order Monday requiring Williams to pay the $20,000 civil penalty, and to continue corrective action as directed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources “to monitor and remove petroleum contamination at the site until corrective action is no longer required.”

The Attorney General’s Environmental Law Division filed a lawsuit in December 2005 alleging that Williams had failed to comply with an earlier court order and repeated attempts by the DNR to obtain voluntary compliance with Iowa law and regulations concerning the company’s underground storage tanks at a gas station site in Stuart.

After the lawsuit was filed, Williams started a course of action approved by the DNR for cleanup, corrective action and monitoring at the Williams site, including removing tons of contaminated soil, sampling soil and water, and monitoring the site for years to come. The cleanup and monitoring were estimated to cost about $97,000.

“Iowa has over 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.”


Background and Details:

The lawsuit filed December 7, 2005:

The suit was filed in Guthrie County. It named Donald Dean Williams, doing business as Williams Oil Company. Williams owned and operated five USTs in Stuart, Iowa. The suit was 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, the DNR issued an administrative order in 1995 requiring compliance and assessing a $4800 penalty. Williams appealed, defaulted on his appeal, and failed to comply. The EPC asked 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. After that, Williams 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.

After the lawsuit was filed:

In April 2006, Williams met with the DNR and both parties agreed Williams would prepare a “Tier 3" report and address the contamination with (1) an over-excavation to remove the petroleum “free product” and contaminated soil, and (2) long-term monitoring to determine whether any soil contamination continues to affect groundwater and whether groundwater contamination begins and continues to decline. Williams' contractor, Seneca Environmental, submitted a budget for the work on May 8, 2006, with total estimated costs of $97,694. The over-excavation was completed on September 13-14, 2006, and 1,450 cubic yards of soil were removed.

Williams agreed to the “Consent Order, Judgment and Decree” entered by Judge Hulse on February 19, at Guthrie County District Court in Guthrie Center. Williams has paid the $20,000 civil penalty.

Future corrective action, as required:

Under terms approved by the Court, Williams will install monitoring wells to determine the extent the over-excavation was successful at removing contamination from the soil and groundwater. If the samples indicate contamination continues to pose a high risk of exposure to the public, additional corrective action will be required to remove remaining contamination. If the samples indicate contamination no longer poses a high risk, samples will continue approximately every three months for an indefinite time to ensure the contamination continues not to pose a high risk of exposure to the public.

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