News Release 483

Totem Pole Trading Post referred to attorney general for underground storage tank violations

Volume 38-483 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, AUG. 19, 2010 -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has referred the case against a Rolla gas station to the Missouri Attorney General's Office to pursue civil penalties for violations of Missouri's Underground Storage Tank Law.

The department referred Totem Pole Trading Post to the attorney general alleging there are underground storage tanks on-site that have not been properly maintained, including installing required upgrades.

"Although we'd prefer to bring facilities like these back into compliance with the Underground Storage Tank Law through voluntary steps, it's important that we have -- and are willing to use -- legal options to protect both public health and the environment," said Mark N. Templeton, director of the Department of Natural Resources.

The department had requested documentation showing the interior lining and corrosion protection have been inspected and tested. These records have not been submitted to the department.

Since the department has no records showing the underground storage tanks have been properly maintained for more than a year, they must be properly, permanently closed.  

A corroded underground storage tank is more likely to leak petroleum product into the environment and contaminate soil and groundwater. Underground storage tank owners must periodically inspect their tanks and make repairs as necessary. Reports from these inspections and confirmation of any repairs made must be sent to the department.

Due to the serious nature of these violations and the lack of response from the facility, the department referred this matter directly to the attorney general to compel compliance and to seek an appropriate civil penalty for the violations. The Missouri Constitution requires civil penalties to be paid to the school fund of the county in which the violation occurred.

Missouri's Underground Storage Tank Law exists to protect public health and the environment, and the department is responsible for enforcing the law and regulations.

The department's enforcement actions help protect human health and the environment by requiring facilities to maintain compliance. The main goal in any enforcement action is to work with a facility to successfully achieve compliance with the standards and then ensure it has the tools to remain in compliance. As part of that process, penalties may be used ensure future compliance by removing the economic benefit of continued noncompliance.

The department strives to work with owners and operators to fix problems before an issue is referred to the Attorney General's Office for legal action.

For more information, contact the department's Hazardous Waste Program at 573-751-3176 or call toll-free at 800-361-4827.