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In re Goodman Oil Co.

01/30/2003

ELR Citation:33 ELR 47830

An administrative law judge (ALJ) assesses a $105,716 and $27,875 penalty against two companies that own and/or operate underground storage tanks (USTs) and UST systems located at various retail and bulk-storage petroleum supply facilities in the state of Idaho. One of the companies was previously found liable for failing to permanently close a UST system at one of its facilities within the 12-month temporary closure period, for failing to demonstrate that it met financial responsibility requirements for USTs at five of its facilities, and for failing to upgrade piping that routinely held petroleum but which had not been cathodically protected. The second company was also previously found liable for failing to provide complete and accurate responses to an information request. The ALJ first holds that one of the companies failed to properly conduct inventory control at several facilities in accordance with the requirements of 40 C.F.R. §280.43, and therefore, violated 40 C.F.R. §280.41(a). A preponderance of the evidence shows that the company failed to record the amount of product in certain tanks each operating day in April, June, and July 1999, and failed to measure water levels in the tanks in June and July 1999. Similarly, a preponderance of the evidence shows that the company did not complete inventory reconciliation for the USTs at one facility, that inventory reconciliation was not performed within a reasonable period of time at other facilities, and that it failed to comply with inventory control requirements. In addition, the company failed to record stick inventory at one of the facilities when it was operating on weekends and holidays between December 1998 through October 1999. The ALJ also holds that the second company failed to properly conduct inventory control at the facilities. Evidence shows that the company failed to comply with the inventory control requirements for four USTs between December 1998 through November 1999. Evidence also shows that it failed to conduct inventory control at a second facility from December 1998 through March 1999. The ALJ rejected the company's defense that the tanks were “empty” during that time. And because the inventory records showing monthly data do not include all of the data needed for inventory reconciliation, the company's testimony that it performed monthly inventory reconciliation is not persuasive as to a third facility. In addition, the company failed to maintain the integrity, accuracy, and completeness of the daily data, including stick readings, and there are no inventory records in evidence as to October and November 1999. However, the ALJ next holds that one of the companies is not liable for the charges alleged in Counts 23 through 26. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that one of the company's failed to notify EPA or the state when inventory control records for several months showed that two tanks had a suspected release, and that the company failed to investigate a suspected release from those tanks. Applying the EPA Penalty Guidance for Violations of UST Regulations, the ALJ next assesses a $105,716 and $27,875 penalty against the two companies for all the violations for which they were found liable. The ALJ also issues a compliance order against the companies.