The US EPA’s appeals board has ordered Euclid of Virginia Inc. to pay a $3.16 million penalty for violating regulations at 23 of its Lowest Price gas stations, according to an EPA press release.
The EPA filed a complaint against the company in fall of 2002 after it discovered that Euclid may have violated regulations designed to detect and prevent fuel leaks in 72 underground storage tanks at gas stations in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
An EPA administrative law judge eventually assessed the company $3.08 million for the violations, but the company appealed in November 2006.
It was the largest penalty ever assessed by an EPA administrative law judge for violations of federal environmental law. In response to the company’s appeal, the EPA’s appeals board upped the penalty to $3.15 million.
"This decision should send a strong message to owners of underground storage tanks that it is not only in the public’s best interest but in their own, too, to comply with leak detection and prevention requirements," said Donald Welsh, regional administrator of EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.
The violations involved 14 gas stations in Maryland, two in Virginia and seven in the District of Columbia. Euclid failed to maintain required leak detection and control equipment, failed to perform required leak detection activities and failed to comply with corrosion-prevention standards, the EPA said.
The company also failed to properly install or maintain equipment to prevent releases of gasoline from overfilled tanks or other spills. It also failed to maintain the required financial assurances.
The EPA didn’t assess the penalty based solely on the number of facilities or underground storage tanks involved, but also on Euclid’s repeat non-compliance with the regulations over several years.
The company can still appeal the board’s decision in federal circuit court. The Baltimore Examiner reported Thursday that the Maryland Department of Environment initially discovered the issue at a Lowest Price gas station and presented their findings to the EPA.