Florida Town Fined by FDEP for Fuel Tank Violations
Private owners are not the only parties who can be on the hook for failing to follow state and federal regulations concerning underground storage tanks and above-ground storage tank units. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) recently imposed a fine on the Town of Century for disregarding Florida state law concerning the maintenance of fuel storage tanks. Continue reading to learn about the enforcement action. Call a qualified underground storage tank (UST) remediation and removal professional at Herbert Lutz & Co. if you need assistance with a damaged or contaminated UST in Florida or New Jersey.
Florida Town Failed to Maintain Oil Storage Tanks, Respond to State Regulators
The FDEP’s recent enforcement action stems from two above-ground petroleum storage tanks located in the Town of Century, in Escambia County. The tanks were stationed at the town shop on Alger Road. One tank contained 2,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline while the other contained 2,000 of vehicle diesel fuel.
The fine originated from an inspection of the tanks conducted by the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, on behalf of FDEP, in February 2021. The inspection revealed that the leak detection gauges on the tanks were damaged, which could increase the risk of an undetected spill. The inspection also found that the city had been failing to conduct annual performance tests on the equipment.
According to state documents, the agency sent a letter to the responsible parties explaining the deficiencies and requesting a response within 15 days. The town failed to respond, and the case was then referred to the FDEP for formal enforcement action. According to an FDEP letter dated October 13, 2021, the town had by then taken actions to bring the tanks into compliance with state regulations. FDEP nevertheless imposed a $3,000 civil fine as well as $250 for costs and expenses in connection with the regulatory violations.
According to the FDEP’s letter, the town then requested a reduction in fine “based on good communication with the Department (FDEP), the urgency of resolving the violations after discovery, and the low-income status of the municipality that owns and operates the facility.” They took steps to remedy the situation, including the implementation of “a system of calendar alerts for annual and periodic regulation requirements to prevent violations from reoccurring.” In light of the town’s compliance efforts, the FDEP agreed to reduce the fine to $750 plus $250 for costs and expenses. The fine was based on the town’s lack of communication following the inspection and notice of violation.
The ultimate fine is a good reminder that communication with regulators is a key part of remediation. A leak or other regulatory issue might not amount to a fine or other enforcement action if prompt remediation efforts are made along with maintenance of an open dialogue with regulators. Failing to take prompt action, or failing to respond to regulatory inquiries, is a surefire ticket to an unnecessary and costly fine.
Call the Comprehensive and Concrete UST Remediation Pros at Lutz for Help With Underground Storage Tank Issues
If you discover a UST at your construction worksite or if you have to respond to a UST spill on your property, you need seasoned help from trusted advisors with years of underground storage tank experience. For certified, accomplished assistance dealing with a UST on your property, call Herbert Lutz & Company in Florida at 954-971-5222, or in New Jersey at 908-862-8888.