The state is suing the Wisconsin operator of 61 underground storage tanks. Bulk Petroleum Corporation owns or maintains the buried tanks at seventeen gas stations around the state, and Bob Brammer, a spokesman in the Iowa Attorney General’s office , says at issue is the requirement that they monitor those tanks, and file regular reports.
The company’s responsible for keeping those underground storage tanks from leaking. The tanks contain gasoline or other petroleum products, and there’s a system in place to detect and prevent any leakage from the thousands of tanks buried around the state, so they won’t let any of their contents escape to contaminate soil or water. The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s office charges that this company violated a list of those requirements.
The requirements include checking inventory, to see if the contents of the tanks are going down. There are rules about gauges to track the level, alarms to indicate possible leaks, spill containers…and procedures the operators have to do to prevent corrosion. On top of all that, they have to keep records of it. The lawsuit doesn’t claim the tanks are all leaking — just that there hasn’t been the right kind of reporting so we’d know if they are or not.
Most of the operators of Iowa’s estimated 7-thousand-800 storage tanks in this category aren’t offenders. While this case may involve a couple of sites where leaks are alleged, for the most part Brammer says the reporting failures mean "we just don’t know for sure." The consumer lawsuit asks the court to prohibit any more violations, and to fine the company up to five-thousand dollars a day for each violation.
Brammer says no other owner or operators of tanks has anything like the number of reporting violations this operator does. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that leaking underground tanks are one of the primary causes of groundwater contamination in the U.S.