WASHINGTON – A settlement announced today between the United States and Chevron Puerto Rico LLC resolves Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) violations at approximately 100 of Chevron’s underground storage tank facilities in Puerto Rico. Under the terms of the settlement, Chevron has agreed to spend approximately $5.2 million to improve its leak detection methods and operations at these Chevron-owned, “Texaco” branded service stations, and will pay a $600,000 penalty.
Petroleum releases from underground storage tanks can contaminate water, making it unsafe to drink, pose fire and explosion hazards, and can have short and long-term effects on people’s health. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require owners and operators to maintain underground storage tanks to avoid releases into the environment. In addition, the regulations require owners and operators to clean up leaks to restore and protect ground water resources, and provide a safe environment for those who live or work around these sites.
Among the violations alleged in the complaint filed yesterday by the United States against Chevron were failure to: provide release detection for tanks and piping, provide adequate overfill protection equipment, perform annual tests of automatic line leak detector systems and maintain adequate records of release detection for tanks and piping.
“To identify potential or actual leaks, Chevron will install advanced leak detection, monitoring and alarm systems that will improve response time and help prevent the contamination of groundwater in Puerto Rico,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This state of the art, system-wide solution should serve as a model for owners and operators of underground storage tanks.”
“Under the terms of this agreement, the health of people living in communities across Puerto Rico will be better protected from the threat of ground water contamination due to potential leaking underground tanks,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “I am hopeful that other owners of underground storage tanks throughout the Commonwealth will work to maintain their underground tanks to prevent future leaks.”
Under the settlement, Chevron will install fully automated Veeder-Root leak detection systems on underground storage tanks at all of its Puerto Rico facilities by March 31, 2013, and will continue operating these systems at its facilities for a minimum of five years. This automated system, which detects contaminants before they enter the environment, provides a more protective method of release detection than other methods, such as the ground water or vapor monitoring currently employed by Chevron. Chevron estimates that the automated systems will cost approximately $1.8 million. In addition, Chevron will provide quarterly reports to EPA regarding its operation of these systems, and will be required to provide information regarding Chevron’s operation of the systems upon EPA’s request.
Chevron has further agreed to implement two supplemental environmental projects. The first requires Chevron to install a centralized monitoring system at approximately 155 Chevron owned, “Texaco” branded service stations containing underground storage tanks by March 31, 2013. This monitoring system will contain audible and visible alarms that will alert station personnel of leaks and other potentially dangerous events. The second requires Chevron to install liquid sensors under dispenser pans for all of its facilities by March 31, 2013, and to also connect these sensors to a centralized monitoring system. Both supplemental environmental projects require regular reporting by Chevron to EPA. Combined, the two projects will cost Chevron approximately $3.4 million.
RCRA gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from the “cradle-to-grave.” This includes the generation, transportation, treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste. The 1986 amendments to RCRA enabled EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances.
For more information on underground storage tanks, visit www.epa.gov/oust.