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To Go Stores to pay $125K civil penalty for environmental violations in Puerto Rico

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement between the United States and To Go Stores, LLC., that will resolve alleged violations of federal environmental laws at 15 gas stations in Puerto Rico.

The company will pay a $125,000 civil penalty as part of the agreement.

Underground storage tanks owned and/or operated by To Go Stores, typically hold large quantities of gasoline, and can cause significant environmental damage if they leak, including contaminating groundwater with pollutants like benzene, which is known to cause cancer.

To Go has also agreed to implement measures to ensure compliance with the law, conduct site checks and tank replacements, install, or upgrade automatic tank gauging systems for release detection and install a centralized monitoring system.

As part of the settlement, To Go will also improve leak detection in at least 43 gas stations across Puerto Rico, at a cost of about $600,000.

“This settlement protects communities across Puerto Rico by significantly improving how To Go manages gasoline underground storage tanks,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. García. “

The centralized monitoring system required by this settlement will particularly protect vital groundwater resources by ensuring that the underground tanks at dozens of gas stations will now be properly monitored and maintained,” she said.

In a complaint filed simultaneously with a consent decree at the US District Court for Puerto Rico, the United States government alleged that To Go violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Puerto Rico Underground Storage Tank Control Regulations in numerous ways.  

The alleged violations include failures to use proper equipment for underground storage tanks, conduct required operation and maintenance, and report and investigate suspected releases. One or more of these violations is alleged to have occurred at 15 of the company’s facilities across the Commonwealth.

EPA’s enforcement efforts encourage increasing an entity’s compliance with environmental regulations by combining the use of advanced technologies, such as pollution prevention systems and information technologies, with traditional compliance measures.

The centralized monitoring component of this agreement will enable To Go to rapidly identify and respond to actual or potential gas leaks at 43 gas stations with actively operating underground storage tanks, each of which will be equipped with on-site electronic release detection monitoring equipment with the capability to transmit monitoring data to one central location on an around the clock basis, according to the documents.

This centralized monitoring technology will enable the company to provide continuous surveillance from a single location for at least 43 gas stations, the 15 cited in the complaint, plus 28 additional facilities, the EPA noted.

To Go will also install, or upgrade to, fully automatic tank gauging systems for release detection at 43 facilities. This compliance measure along with central monitoring system, valued at approximately $600,000, will instantly notify a central management system in the event of a potential or actual leak, the documents show.

The obligation to install or upgrade automatic tank gauging release detection and central monitoring systems will extend to any additional facilities with actively operating USTs that may be acquired by To Go after the date of lodging of the consent decree.

In addition, To Go will provide quarterly reports to EPA regarding its operation of these systems and will be required to provide more information regarding their operation upon EPA’s request.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and must be approved by the US District Court for Puerto Rico before becoming final.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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