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Euclid of Virginia, Inc.

05/01/2003

ELR Citation:33 ELR 47833

An administrative law judge (ALJ) assesses a $2,475 penalty against the owner of underground storage tanks (USTs) for failing to install spill catchment basins and overfill prevention equipment by Maryland's regulatory deadline, but otherwise dismisses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) complaint against the UST owner and operator. The ALJ first dismisses EPA's claim that the owner and operator of the USTs failed to maintain records. It is immediately apparent that “readily available” in the the state regulation refers to the “alternative site” and not to the records. There was no evidence that the inspector had asked to inspect the records at the alternative site, and EPA acknowledged that the requested records were provided within two weeks, which was considered to be reasonable. The ALJ next holds that although the state of Maryland already assessed a civil penalty against the owner for failing to install spill catchment basins and overfall prevention equipment, neither res judicata nor issue preclusion operated as a bar to EPA's complaint for the same violation. The only prerequisites to EPA enforcement in states authorized to administer their own programs are a determination of a violation and notice to the state in which the violations occurs. The ALJ next assesses a $2,475 penalty against the owner of the USTs. EPA failed to substantiate the economic benefit component of its proposed penalty, thus, the ALJ deducted $885 from the proposed $3360 penalty. Lastly, the ALJ dismisses EPA's complaint against the operator because the Agency failed to carry its burden that the operator was in fact an operator as defined by the applicable state regulations.